VAWG Hustings for London Mayoral Election on 6 May 2021
EVAW, Imkaan and Women's Resource Centre co-hosted the only VAWG London hustings ahead of the London Mayoral Election on 6 May 2021.
On 21 April 2021, EVAW, Imkaan and the Women’s Resource Centre co-hosted the only London Mayoral hustings focused on violence against women and girls (VAWG) in the run up to the London Mayoral elections on 6 May. The event, viewed live by 100 attendees, was hosted by the noted broadcaster and journalist Samira Ahmed and delved into crucial VAWG issues that the next Mayor of London will have to address after next week’s election.
EVAW’s Director, Andrea Simon introduced the event on behalf of the three host organisations, highlighting the prevalence of VAWG in London, which is a large part of daily policing work, and noting the significant role of the Mayor of London in this space, as both London’s Police and Crime Commissioner and with powers over public health planning and influence over London’s boroughs. She said:
“We would like to see pledges and action to ensure a coordinated approach is adopted in a dedicated Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, because we know this abuse does not take place in silos; the overlapping experiences of abuse many women will face during their lives, exacerbate pre-existing structural inequalities based on gender, race, class, sexuality, immigration status and disability. A strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, should be a priority for London’s Mayor and should be designed with the input of specialist women’s organisations.”
Although not all the invited Mayoral Candidates could attend the hustings, we watched pre-recorded messages from the Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Women’s Equality Party candidates on what they will prioritise to tackle VAWG if elected.
Conservatives: Shaun Bailey will bring in more CCTV cameras on the London Underground, 24-hour foot patrols and a 1000 more police officers in specialist units, as well as support ongoing training for safeguarding detectives.
Greens: Sian Berry wants to see misogyny made a hate crime and more resources to justice for survivors and address problems such as lack of police time and resources and lack of time with IDVAs.
Labour: Sadiq Khan will refresh the Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, take steps to design out crime in the public realm and expand the Night Safety Charter. He will campaign for misogyny to be recorded as hate crime and will continue to invest in educating men and boys about sexism and consent and change the behaviour of abusers.
Liberal Democrats: Luisa Porritt would make sure police are held accountable so that policing is proportionate and when women report a crime they are taken seriously. She will create a Women’s Board to hold the Mayor to account on their VAWG strategy and will continue Lib Dem London Assembly colleague Caroline Pidgeon’s campaign for free travel for those fleeing abuse.
Women’s Equality Party: Mandu Reid will invest £42 million per year raised by increasing council tax on a “whole society” approach with anti-racism at its heart. She will create a new Deputy Mayor for ending VAWG, make London a “sanctuary city” for migrant women, invest in prevention and will reform policing in London.
For more information, watch the candidates’ messages on VAWG here:
The hustings covered a range of topics such as a VAWG strategy for all, where answers included Irina Von Wiese (Liberal Democrat London Assembly list candidate) stressing the need for education on consent, FGM and so-called “honour-based abuse” like forced marriage as well as investment to transform empty properties into shelters where women fleeing abuse can go. Cllr Louise Calland (London Assembly candidate for Merton & Wandsworth) highlighted Shaun Bailey’s commitment to the SafeLives “whole health” pledge.
On police accountability, Sophie Linden (Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime) flagged the work of the London Victims Commissioner on rape prosecutions and training on bias in how police respond to VAWG. Mandu Reid, Leader of Women’s Equality Party (WEP) noted that police brutality and disproportionate policing is not new to Black and minoritised women.
There was a lot of interest by attendees in what candidates would do to protect specialist VAWG services and address structural inequalities. Mary Ion (Green candidate for Bexley and Bromley) said that the Greens were committed to fighting cuts to VAWG services and to the principle of “nothing about us without us” when it came to specialist services led “by and for” Black and minoritised, Deaf and disabled and LGBT women.
There was support for migrant women related amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill among Labour and Greens, while Irina Von Wiese for the Lib Dems noted the hostile environment meant the Sewell Race Report’s findings rang hollow. Mandu Reid stated that the Mayor of London needs to call out structural inequality in commissioning models, while Louise Calland highlighted Shaun Bailey’s experience working with young Black men and working towards a fairer London.
Finally, on housing policy, Sophie Linden and Mandu Reid flagged the need for ringfenced funding for move on accommodation for women leaving refuge. Mary Ion and Irina Von Wiese supported a universal basic income and Louise Calland called for more affordable housing.
Thank you to all the panellists for taking part, Samira Ahmed for chairing and to the BSL interpreters and palantypist for helping make the event accessible. To watch the full hustings event and find out about the candidates’ VAWG policies ahead of the Mayor of London election, please click here.