End Violence Against Women: A Different World Is Possible
As part of our We Believe You campaign we're supporting The End Violence Against Women coalition, who are calling for action to ensure that schools play their part in protecting girls and women from sexual violence. Here, they tell us why:
The End Violence Against Women coalition applauds Mumsnetters for shining a spotlight on the issue of rape and sexual assault with the We Believe You campaign - and courageously showing just how widespread the problem really is.
Our sexualised culture normalises violence through demeaning and sexist images in newspapers, magazines, adverts, music videos and websites.
Mumsnet's Let Girls be Girls campaign has been instrumental in getting the government to take action on this.
We recently gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, along with three other women's organisations, about the harmful impact of sexualisation and the inaccurate and prejudicial reporting of sexual violence.
- See here for Object's Page 3 campaign.
It's a problem that begins at the very start of our lives as women. Our own YouGov survey shockingly found that one in three 16-18 year old girls have experienced unwanted sexual contact at school. This means that girls are not learning in a safe environment and sends a clear message to young people, who are beginning to form their opinions, that women and girls are not equal.
We face a huge challenge: how to achieve a world where women are not sexually harassed in the street or at work, where girls are not worried about being groped at school, and where we feel safe in our own homes, as well as coming home late from a night out.
Around a third of people think a woman is partially to blame for rape because of what she was wearing or if she had been drinking, and around half of young men think it's OK to force a woman to have sex in certain circumstances. The cost of violence against women - borne by women and their families, as well as to public services and the economy - is staggering, so we cannot go on simply accepting this as a fact of life.
Preventing sexual violence
Shamefully, preventing sexual violence before it begins has long been the weakest part of the Government's approach. Schools often fail to embed prevention work systematically across the curriculum and school policies.
The Home Office's current teen sexual violence campaign is excellent and targets boys' attitudes and behaviour, but such campaigns have usually been ad-hoc and short term, or left to the voluntary sector (have a look at our WeAreMan short video). The Department for Education is even relying on Facebook to promote the Home Office campaign, rather than telling schools directly.
Working with our expert members, we've set out a series of actions that must be taken to begin the task of preventing violence.
We are calling on central government, local areas and schools to work together:
- All schools should have a statutory obligation to address the breadth of violence against women, as well as sexualisation, healthy relationships and challenging gender stereotypes. Anti-bullying policies should include sexual harassment and gender-based bullying.
- There should be ongoing teacher training on these issues including forced marriage, FGM and 'honour'-based violence, which are often sidelined.
- Schools should fund women's community projects to deliver prevention work and should link to specialist services so that young people have access to this support.
- We support the Rape Crisis campaign for funding to expand the National Sexual Violence helpline.
- Please support our work for a safer world for women and girls. Every penny helps!