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Activism against gender-based violence: Police are treating it as an isolated incident

“Police are treating it as an isolated incident”

How many times do we hear this statement, particularly in relation to an attack or murder of a woman? The expression is intended to calm the local community and give us a sense of perspective as to how likely this is to happen again in a particular community or to happen to us.

But how isolated is gender-based violence? UK Government statistics show that domestic abuse and violence will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. On average two women are murdered each week by a man and the Femicide Census tells us that 52% of women were killed by their current or former partner and 70% of such killings were in the home of either the victim or perpetrator. These figures are shocking and despite the increasing public debate and raising awareness of the problem of domestic abuse against women we seem to be making little headway in terms of influencing change.

Activism against gender-based violence

25th November saw the launch of 16 days of Activism against gender-based violence which is an annual international campaign which aims to put an end to femicide. Launched by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership it aims to highlight the continued high levels of femicide and gender-based violence around the world. Its aim is to raise awareness, build advocacy and inspire action in communities.

Tackling gender-based violence

So what action can we take to change this pervasive problem? To me, the answer starts with our education and the development of children and young people. We should be helping them to understand what a respectful and healthy relationship looks like; to understand respect for each other and to see a relationship as a partnership of equals rather than of one party controlling the other. When TV presenter Ruth Dodsworth’s husband was jailed in 2021 for coercive and controlling behaviour towards her and stalking he was quoted as saying to the Police: “Harassment? But she’s my wife”. This idea of ownership and control of women lies at the heart of abusive behaviour. Men and boys in particular should be encouraged to see young girls as their equals, with the right to independence and opportunities in their lives...and that this doesn’t in any way diminish them as men or boys.

Calling out misogyny

Awareness of everyday micro-aggressions against women and recognising that these are at the root of coercive controlling behaviour is important. What starts out as ‘banter’ or ‘just a joke', can soon become much more. They are often indicative of a deeper routed misogynistic attitude by men towards women. We should be calling this out in the workplace, in the pub, at home and everywhere we hear or see it. But more importantly, men should be part of the solution.

Men as allies

As Jackson Katz in his challenging Ted Talk says, violence against women is not a ‘women’s issue’, it is essentially a ‘men’s issue’ and all men should be encouraged to call out unacceptable behaviour when they see or hear it in men be they their peers, colleagues, friends or family members. As Katz says men cannot remain bystanders and remain silent. To be silent is a form of consent, even at the micro-aggression level. We have to make sexist and misogynistic commentary unacceptable socially. To be silent or do otherwise is to encourage the perpetuation of abuse.

If you have been affected by this blog or know someone who is in need of help please contact these links for support:


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