Barnet Post

Barnet Post

Violence against women and girls is a national threat

We need a national strategy to tackle violence against women

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Lisa Bard
By Lisa Bard 05 November 2021

As a mother of two young adults, with one still in University, I am horrified by reports in the national press of the avalanche of violence against women and girls being perpetrated in public spaces and most recently in nightclubs. 

There were almost 700 sexual offences recorded in Barnet in the twelve months ending October 2021, which represents a 23% increase in a year and shows how much worse the issue is becoming for women and girls locally. As fewer than one in six victims of sexual assault report them to the police, there are likely to be around 3,500 unreported victims of sexual assault in the borough.

Progress is being made, although it is slow. I was glad to hear that as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week in October, Middlesex University became a Hate Crime Reporting Centre in Barnet so that students will have an easy way to report crimes against them or hate crimes they have witnessed. However, at this current pace, violence against women and girls will never be reduced, let alone eradicated. 

The Women’s Equality Party is calling for politicians to treat violence against women as a national threat in the same way that terrorism is viewed. To some, this may sound like a confusing comparison, but if you consider the fact that since the murder of Sarah Everard’s 81 women have been killed, and that every year in England and Wales, 1.6 million women experience domestic abuse and 85 thousand are raped, the reality of what women face becomes starkly clear. The police and government need to move beyond responding to gender-based violence after it happens and start taking action to prevent it. Treating violence against women and girls as a national threat that demands a national strategy is the first step to doing so. 

We need to stop asking women to change their behaviour; it didn’t help Sarah Everard to trust the police when she was murdered and abducted by Wayne Couzens. It didn’t help Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, who didn’t go out alone at night and were murdered together in nearby Brent. It didn’t help Sabina Nessa to avoid quiet streets when she was attacked at a time where the park "was likely being used by many people."

It is time that men’s violence is not tolerated in society. It is time for men to stop being bystanders. On White Ribbon Day Thursday 25th November, and the 16 days to end violence against women that follow, the White Ribbon Organisation is asking people in their communities, organisations and workplaces, to come together, and say ‘no’ to violence against women. 

As a mother of two young people, I call on Middlesex University to continue the work they are doing on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion by working towards White Ribbon Accreditation to become an institution that prevents male violence against women.

I also found out that Barnet Council’s strategy on Violence Against Women And Girls expired in 2020 and there is no current strategy in place. This is exactly why a national strategy is needed - to ensure that local Councils prioritise developing and following their own local strategies with central guidance. The Women’s Equality Party in Barnet calls on Barnet Council to add White Ribbon Accreditation as a priority to their strategy on Violence Against Women And Girls for 2021 onwards.

On Sunday 14th November at 7 pm online, The Women’s Equality Party in Barnet are hosting a discussion chaired by Tabitha Morton, who has deep expertise on ending VAWG, about the ways that as a society we can work towards ending male violence against women. 

Click here for your free tickets and for more information about your local branch of The Women’s Equality Party.

Lisa Bard

Co-Leader

The Women’s Equality Party, Barnet Branch