EVAW Coalition - Winter Bulletin, February 2018

News on policy developments and more relating to violence against women and girls

Calling time on sexual harassment

MPs launch inquiry into sexual harassment

Relationships and Sex Education – call for evidence

New Safeguarding guidance for schools

Worboys and challenging the Parole Board decision

Highest ever reports of rape but a crisis in justice system response

Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill…no news yet

“One of the best jobs in PR right now” is still open to applications

 

Calling time on sexual harassment

2018 marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote. But there isn’t time to celebrate how far we’ve come, instead women are calling #TimesUp on the sexual harassment and violence laid bare by the #MeToo revelations. EVAW’s Co-Chair Marai Larasi was Emma Watson’s “date” on the red carpet alongside other activists at the Golden Globes in January in solidarity with women facing violence across the world. [add pic of emma Watson and marai]

Back in the UK we’re still waiting for Westminster’s response to the scandals which brought down cabinet ministers last year. We hope Andrea Leadsom’s report will include recommendations for an independent arbiter who can make judgements outside of the political parties’ control.

 

MPs launch inquiry into sexual harassment

In the meantime, the Women and Equalities Select Committee has launched an inquiry focussing on women and girls’ experiences of sexual harassment in public places: on the street, on public transport, in shopping areas, in bars and clubs and in other public areas. The inquiry is accepting written submissions until Monday 5 March 2018 and EVAW will be making a submission including the film we made with Imkaan last year which detailed the harassment experienced by young black women in London.

 

Relationships and Sex Education – call for evidence

You have less than a week to respond to the Department for Education’s call for evidence on Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) as it develops guidance for the subject which will be compulsory in all schools from September 2019. We have shared EVAW’s response and are encouraging individuals and organisations to submit evidence. It’s particularly important to let the Department know how vital RSE is in challenging the attitudes which underpin and normalise violence against women and girls. Submit responses by 12 February 2018.

 

New Safeguarding guidance for schools

Following a long campaign by EVAW and members, the Department for Education published detailed guidance on how schools should respond to sexual violence and harassment by other children in December. This is an ongoing consultation on the statutory schools safeguarding and child protection guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’. Deadline for responses 22 February 2018.

 

Worboys and challenging the Parole Board decision

The New Year also brought the announcement of the imminent release of serial rapist John Worboys. EVAW was appalled by this decision, and is concerned about whether there those with responsibility are really able to reliably assess the risk he poses to women. Two victims of the ‘black cab rapist’ launched a legal challenge to the Parole Board’s decision, supported by the Centre for Women’s Justice. A crowdfund has been launched to support the victims’ legal costs with over £62,000 of the £100,000 target raised so far. The Justice Committee will question the Chair of the Parole Board this week.

 

 

Highest ever reports of rape but a crisis in justice system response

In January we learnt there was an increase of 23% in the number of sexual offences recorded by the police in the latest year (ending September 2017) compared with the previous year (up to 138,045). Police recorded rape increased by 29% (to 48,773 offences) compared with the previous year, while other sexual offences increased by 20% (to 89,272). Offences relating to sexual offences against children contributed over one-third (37%) to the total increase in the number of sexual offences recorded.

 

As we’re reminded of the enormous prevalence of these crimes which do so much harm, the justice system is in a crisis over police and CPS failures in relation to the disclosure of evidence to defence teams. Media portrayal of these problems as though there is an agenda working against the interests of defendants has arguably seriously damaged confidence in rape trials and a review of cases is under way. Survivors of rape who have never sought justice, or even support which might help them, are hearing an ongoing insinuation that “false allegations” of rape are common when all research and evidence in this area shows that they are in fact very rare. An adversarial justice system already makes it very difficult to investigate and prosecute rape, which in itself is one of the deepest manifestations of women’s inequality. Survivors deserve more social justice than they are currently being afforded from those with power. There has been little comment yet from Government or Parliamentarians during this crisis – perhaps it is time to hear from them on a matter of utmost importance to women’s and girls’ safety.

 

Not unconnected, Harriet Harman and Vera Baird have launched a campaign to enforce the rules which prevent a victim’s sexual history evidence being used by the defence in rape trials.

 

Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill…no news yet

We’re still waiting for the Government’s proposals for the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill promised in the Queen’s Speech last Summer but yet to emerge. EVAW is hoping for measures which protect migrant women to be centred in any Bill, and a Commissioner with powers to ensure that support services meet the needs of all women who need them. We’re holding meetings with our members and will be responding to proposals when they emerge.

 

“One of the best jobs in PR right now” is still open to applications

Hailed by some as a “dream feminist job”, the coveted role of EVAW’s Head of Communications is still open for applications. If this is your dream job…or you know the perfect candidate please have a look at the job details and get your CV to us by Monday 19 February.

 

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We are very grateful for the support of all our supporters and funders, including Esmée Fairbairn, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Trust for London, the Coutts Foundation, and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

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