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Preventing male violence against women and girls

Following a number of tragic murders of women in public spaces across the country in recent years, Ealing Council delivered one of the most comprehensive listening exercises about a subject in the borough’s history; over 2,800 women had their voices heard on issues related to male violence against women and girls (MVAWG). 

From that a partnership strategy and consultation was done, and in the latest step forward, now the council have published a detailed action plan with not just commitments to tackle the problem, but a long list of activities, improvements and innovative ideas to be delivered by the council, police, schools and voluntary organisations across the borough over the coming 3 years.

The launch of this comprehensive MVAWG plan features over 50 activities against 4 key priorities:

  • prevention of male violence against women and girls
  • support for women and girls
  • developing a community coordinated response
  • holding perpetrators to account

Everyone’s responsibility

In the UK, a violent man kills a woman every three days, while almost a quarter of women report having been a victim of sexual assault. Research by UN Women UK has also found that 71 % of women in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space, with this number rising sharply to 86% among women aged 18–24.

Council Leader Peter Mason said: “This is truly an issue every single one of us has a responsibility to address. We have to be clear – these problems are caused by the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours of too many men. It is not just an issue with the minority of men who are violent, but also those who are sexist; who continue to behave inappropriately around women; who perpetuate toxic forms of masculinity; or who just stand by silently when women feel threatened or are being threatened.

“We know that change will not happen overnight, but we believe that together we can help to stop the men who wish to do women harm and drive forward a lasting change so that women and girls can finally live their lives free from fear, harassment, or abuse.”

Taking a holistic approach

Preventative work in the new action plan includes innovative use of licensing conditions to ensure that boosts to the night-time economy with bars and clubs across the borough also prioritise the safety of women and girls. Data will be used to identify problematic areas and redesign public spaces, but crucially also a programme of work with schools, colleges, universities and a coproduction approach with young people to deliver sessions and campaigns addressing the growing prevalence of negative attitudes to women and girls on social media, discussions about consent, staying safe, and harmful sexual behaviours.

 “We must not simply respond to violence against women and girls – we must actively prevent and end it,” said Cllr Anand, cabinet member for tackling crime and antisocial behaviour. She continued “This action plan takes a really holistic approach investing in education, support, as well as innovative ideas about how we can practically keep women and girls safe in our public spaces and enforcement to hold perpetrators to account. But most crucially following the huge local conversations we had about these issues – this plan has to be delivered by all of us as a community; it needs to be a priority for every one of us.”

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