On 1st March 2022, the government launched a new public campaign aiming to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) by shaping the attitudes that normalise and tolerate this abuse. This follows the launch of a similar campaign by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), have called for a targeted public campaign to help prevent abuse since 2018 and welcome this response to our calls, which are a step towards changing deeply rooted attitudes to sexual harassment and other abuse.
It is really important that these campaigns focus on engaging men and boys and interrupt the harmful social norms that normalise and excuse male violence against women and girls (VAWG). Prevention must be at the core of the strategic response to ending VAWG.
This abuse is very prevalent, impacting millions of women across their lifetimes but it is not inevitable. To eradicate it requires bold action and commitment to change not only our responses to violence but how society sees men and women, and what kind of behaviour we regard as acceptable.
EVAW has long called for this type of campaign, but we are clear that this work must be long-term, properly funded and shaped by specialist organisations including those led by and for Black and minoritised women, given marginalised women face disproportionately high rates of male violence due to racist misogyny.
New strategic policing requirement
This week, the government also announced that it has added violence against women and girls to the strategic policing requirement. This will make violence against women and girls a national priority for police forces alongside terrorism, child sexual abuse and serious and organised crime. Police are now required to increase resources and combine their capabilities to tackle plummeting rape convictions and dwindling public police responses to violence against women.
This follows multiple police inspectorate reports calling for radical change in policing violence against women and girls, and police complaints body investigations against officers abusing their position of power for a sexual purpose, which now comprises the single largest form of corruption they deal with.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), said:
“We welcome these new public campaigns to tackle male violence against women and girls. We can’t end this abuse without addressing the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours that minimise and normalise this abuse.
Too often, campaigns are targeted at women, wrongly placing responsibility on us to ‘keep ourselves safe’ rather than tackling the root causes of their violence against women. We’re pleased these campaigns put the focus where they belong – on men’s attitudes and behaviour and on stopping perpetrators.
It’s really important to engage men and boys in this conversation, because it’s not up to women and girls alone to tackle this issue. Violence against women and girls is everyone’s business and we should all be able to take action and hold each other accountable.
Preventing violence is always better than solely responding after the harm has been done. We need to see more investment in prevention so that as a society, we can continue to have these difficult but necessary conversations and build a different future without violence against women and girls.”
Sinead Geoghegan, email@example.com, 07960 744 502