End Violence Against Women Coalition Bulletin – October 2011

October 28, 2011

A welcome start on tackling sexualisation but why are young people missing from the picture?

Following the Bailey Review on the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood earlier this year, the PM held a summit this week (11th October) to announce plans to tackle this problem including:

  • an opt-in to block internet porn for new customers of TalkTalk, BT, Sky, Virgin and a child protection app for smartphones;
  • the new Parentport website for parents to complain about products, ads or services;
  • guidelines restricting outdoor ads with sexual images near schools, and a voluntary ban on ads near schools for lap-dancing clubs.

EVAW welcomes these initiatives but, as we urged in our response to the Review, we think they should be much bolder and rooted in women and children’s rights. Sexualisation goes beyond just young people, it provides the context for a culture in which violence against women and girls flourishes. We note that Facebook is supporting this initiative – the same Facebook that is refusing to take down pages promoting rape. Maybe the PM can have a word in their ear?

One of the holes in the Government plans is the role of schools and work to empower young people to deal with the messages they are bombarded with depicting women as sex objects.  Brook’s research showing that young people are being failed by inadequate sex education chimes with our own findings, as referenced in this Guardian article on the Home Office’s This is ABUSE campaign on teenage relationship abuse. Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) and Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) education are the ideal places to discuss issues around sexualisation, sexual consent and healthy relationships but we need to ensure that all young people have access to this information.

EVAW’s work referred to in parliamentary debate on preventing violence against women and girls

The critical role of education, among other areas, in challenging attitudes and preventing violence before it starts was the subject of a Westminster Hall debate led by Caroline Lucas MP on Wednesday 12th October. Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone, re-stated the Government’s message that local VAWG services should not be an easy cut and that PSHE is vital for addressing this issue. In a letter to EVAW, Rights of Women and Rape Crisis England and Wales following the Justice Minister’s comments on rape earlier this year the PM says he believes young people should receive high quality SRE. So why are we still leaving it to chance whether this happens?

Our groundbreaking report on action to prevent violence, A Different World is Possible, and cutting edge viral We Are Man were also referred to in articles on ePolitix and Huffington Post.

Phew – what a conference season…

We’ve had a very busy conference season this year. We ran a stand at Labour’s Women’s Conference and exhibited our prevention work at the TUC Women’s Reception. We discussed concerns about tackling attitudes in schools, sexual exploitation, women’s safety and the Olympics with Ministers, Shadows and other politicians, including a direct question to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt from the floor of Conservative Party Conference with a live link to Lord Coe and Minister Hugh Robertson.  At a fringe event the Olympics organising committee boss Paul Deighton told us that he agreed the best measure was to take preventative action now. Our report examining the links between major sporting events and violence against women is here and our campaign flyer here.

We also raised the issue of how increasingly autonomous schools will tackle sexual bullying, forced marriage and promote healthy relationships. Education Secretary Michael Gove praised our research profiling innovative projects which work in schools and communities and said other schools should follow and Ofsted should report on this.

Sending signals to women by criminalising forced marriage?

In the now notorious leaked No 10 memo on plans to win back women voters, whom polling showed as disproportionately withdrawing their support for the Coalition Government, there was a proposal to criminalise forced marriage because the signal sent by not doing so looked bad. This week the proposal appeared, however experts, including EVAW members, criticised the plans as being impractical, possibly risking women’s safety and disproportionately linked to immigration control. What is really needed is proper implementation of existing policies and laws, funding for women’s support organisations who have expertise in this area, and work in schools to identify and prevent forced marriage. EVAW Board member Dr Aisha Gill’s research on the viability of a forced marriage law is here.

This debate was very shortly followed by the Supreme Court ruling which overturned the ban on marriage visas for under-21s saying this measure was debateable as a way of tackling forced marriage. EVAW member Southall Black Sisters intervened in the Supreme Court case. Their response is here.

Public Sector Equality Duty – regulations in force

The regulations for the Equality Duties (England) under the Equality Act 201 have now come into force, with different timescales for schools to publish information demonstrating their compliance. This is a crucial tool for ensuring public bodies address all forms of violence against women and girls. Equality Minister Baroness Verma said in the House of Lords “…we would expect a local authority to have considered how its provision of social housing affects women who have been victims of domestic violence”. More info on the new duty here.

UN calls on UK government to take action on race discrimination

The UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called for the UK Government to develop an action plan on race equality or a specific race equality strategy. It highlighted key issues affecting minority women including the disproportionate impact on women and children of Dale Farm eviction and discrimination relating to the increase in the marriage visa age from 18 – 21 purportedly to prevent Forced Marriage (see above).

Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize – Awards Soiree tonight!

We have been nominated for the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize and our Co-Chair Professor Liz Kelly, along with many of our members, will be at the awards event tonight. Best of luck to all the inspiring organisations and individuals who have been nominated!

Events coming up…

25 October – EVAW Co-Chair Marai Larasi and Director Holly Dustin will be running a workshop at the Women’s Health and Equality Consortium national conference. More info here.

12 November – EVAW will be taking part in ‘Fem11’. We look forward to meeting activists from all over the UK, and especially to the first London mayoral hustings on women. More info here.

17 November – EVAW Co-Chair Professor Liz Kelly and Board member Dr Aisha Gill are speaking at the Rise National Violence Against Women Conference. More info here.

Follow us on  by clicking here @EVAWhd  For more information about EVAW go to www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk.

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