I was invited to speak at the White Ribbon Campaign launch hosted by Worcester Community Trust (WCT). The White Ribbon Campaign calls for an end to violence and abuse of women and girls at the hands of men.
WCT do some amazing work supporting women and girls. It’s great work that they do – but wouldn’t it be better if we were able to stamp out these behaviours in the first place?
Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but we could end male violence against women and girls in our lifetimes. There is perhaps no better way to break the cycle of male violence to women than by focusing on engaging with children and young people about healthy relationships, positive masculinity and behaviours.
Violence and abuse experienced by women and girls takes many forms. Some behaviours and words may seem ‘harmless’ but normalising them ignores the short- and long-term effects on women and girls and can lead to more extreme violence and abuse later down the line.
Domestic abuse and violence is often unseen, but in England and Wales, on average, two women a week are murdered by a partner, ex-partner or family member and research shows that last year 1.7 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse.
Men: Here’s the nub. Violence against women and girls is not a ‘women’s issue’ but it’s often portrayed as one. This is due to the way women have long been responsible for navigating threats to their own safety. The first step to change the story, is to understand that women and girls consistently live with a fear of violence that men do not experience in the same way.
A second step is for us men to take an active role in stopping violence before it starts by recognising and calling out attitudes and behaviours that are harmful and that could well, in the course of time, lead to more extreme forms of abuse and violence.
I’ve signed the White Ribbon pledge to call out sexism when I see it. Will you join me?