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EVAW End of Year Bulletin, 2016
2016. Quite a year. For lots of people, in lots of places around the UK and around the world 2016 has brought huge change - for some turmoil, for many a sense of unease and for most questions about what happens next.
Our agenda is feeling the aftershocks of that turmoil. Women have been at the sharp end of the increase in racist attacks and hate crime since the Brexit vote. Specialist services are struggling to survive continued cuts and a reshaping of local government financing. And in a post-truth media landscape, the way violence against women is reported is having an impact – even as ever greater numbers of women are coming forward to report violence we continue to see victims named and blamed in some sections of the press.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of this things we’ve been up to this year, the successes we’ve enjoyed and the frustrations still to be resolved…
Preventing abuse and changing attitudes in schools
In 2016 we were pleased when the Women and Equalities Select Committee held an inquiry into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools. The report contained recommendations including making Sex and Relationships Education compulsory, and a review of the government’s guidance on safeguarding and school’s responsibilities.
We published our submission to the inquiry as a briefing on the legal protection girls have and how everyone including school leaders, governors, local authorities, Ofsted and the Government are already failing to meet their duties under the Equality and Human Rights Acts.
Media Awards – Recognising great journalism
We ran our first ever Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Media Awards having long wanted to give recognition to brilliant journalism which names, exposes and gives context to abuse of women and girls. We had terrific support from our members and many journalists who got involved as nominators and judges. The winning entries show what a difference good journalism can make. Our sisters in Scotland has another great year of recognising the best journalism their side of the border too.
Racist sexual harassment and elections
We called on London Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner candidates in the May elections to pledge action to end violence against women and girls. We made a powerful film with our member Imkaan about the impact racist sexual harassment has on young black women and put it in front of election candidates with accompanying research which showed that 85% of young women have been harassed on the street.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already committed to renewing and improving London’s VAWG strategy and we have commitments from many of the Police and Crime Commissioners who now have significant spending power for the services women rely on.
Parliament hears disclosures and votes for action to end abuse
At the beginning of the #16Days to end violence against women and girls we read the #FemicideCensus, a report on the collectives failures that lead to domestic violence murders and how the police in London are failing children who are at risk. Michelle Thomson MP spoke powerfully about being raped and how she hadn’t told anyone else until much later in life. We welcomed the Government’s new plan to ensure specialist support services are properly funded, but really hope to see that go beyond “expectation”. We were delighted when Parliament voted to give the Istanbul Convention Bill another reading.
Sexual violence at Universities
EVAW has been campaigning for changes to the way universities respond to abuse of women students in their institutions after young women appealed to us to do so. This Autumn the Universities UK Taskforce set up to examine what changes are needed recommended to its members that they end the unlawful practices we highlighted in our briefing as discriminatory. We were pleased and now want to see enforcement of all the recommendations.
Protecting women’s access to justice
2016 saw yet another attempt in Parliament to change the law and give anonymity to people who are accused of sexual offences. We know this move could make it harder for the police to build a case so we wrote an open letter to Cliff Richard, Paul Gambaccini and Nigel Evans MP to ask them to reconsider. We also briefed members of the House of Lords who went on to vote against an amendment introduced by Lord Paddick.
Please support us to maintain our independent feminist voice
EVAW relies on generous supporters and funders to enable us to campaign with an independent, feminist voice – please donate today if you would like to help!
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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For more information about EVAW see www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk