One Billion and Rising in Britain
Amber Rudd, Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, tells us why she's supporting the One Billion Rising campaign. The campaign is a global one to end violence against women - have a look here for a previous post by Stella Creasy MP for more background, and there's an interesting interview with Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler, who founded the campaign, in the Guardian here.
In the UK, the campaign's efforts are being focused on young people, relationships and violence. A cross-party group led by Stella and Amber is asking for parliamentary time on 14 February to vote on making "personal, social and health education a requirement in schools, including a zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships".
What do you think - should it be compulsory for children to learn about relationship violence and sexual consent in schools? Let us know what you think on the Talk thread.
The variety of questions and requests that MPs receive at their weekly surgeries to help constituents has no boundaries. From assistance with genuine problems such as benefits or pensions, to the slightly bizarre request to contact Argos who haven't delivered the TV, the weekly surgery is full of surprises.
But one of the recurring themes at my surgeries as an MP are stories about abuse against women and girls. It has become a distressingly common theme in my surgeries, and I know other Members of Parliament have the same experience.
These women come to see me, to speak with me in confidence. And in a surprisingly casual way, they describe the awful incidents that they, their daughters and even granddaughters have experienced. Stories describing young girls of only 5 and 6 who receive abuse from young boys. Stories of women who have grown up in environments where abuse towards women is 'normal'.
This violence affects many women; young and old; gay and straight; of all religions, wealth and ethnicities. Thankfully there are organisations out there, which are determined to see an end to this abuse. One Billion Rising in Britain and its campaign to end violence against women and girls in Britain and across the world is an example of the work being done to eradicate this violence from our communities and homes.
I wholeheartedly support the work of One Billion Rising Britain. This year marks their 15th Anniversary, in which time they have reached over 61 million people. Actively speaking out to bring an end to violence against women, the work of this organisation is hugely important. And their anniversary gives us a great opportunity to talk about the work that can be done to help them bring an end to this violence.
We need to see more information in schools explaining the conditions that some young women are finding themselves in, and highlighting the help they can receive and the action that they can take. We need to be ambitious in our determination in eradicating this abuse, so early intervention with young girls to help them build their self-confidence is crucial. We need to educate young men that women of all ages deserve respect just like any other human being. We need to raise the expectations of our young people to oppose all violence against women and girls so we can finally end this recurring, devastating behaviour.
One Billion Rising Britain is doing fantastic work to help bring to an end violence against women and girls. I want to see an end to the numbers of women coming to my surgeries to talk about abuse, and I believe a good start is by showing our support for organisations like One Billion Rising Britain.
On February 14th in Parliament MPs from all parties will be debating what can be done to eradicate violence towards women. Let's all come together and support and highlight a campaign with the goal of combating the violence that is still so prevalent in all our communities.