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Southwark calls for men’s behaviour to change to protect women and girls

Attention is being shifted to men’s behaviour in the latest efforts by Southwark Council to prevent violence against women and girls.

A new initiative by the council, announced on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women day last week November 25, will draw on advice from Solace Women’s Aid to provide a programme of events highlight violence against women and girls and how we can stop it.

The sessions will run until Human Rights Day on December 10. They will consist of easy to access online learning sessions and seminars, such as a session on “Child to Parent Violence” today at 1pm.

There will also be an “Empowering Communities Conference: Tackling Male Violence against Women and Girls” session on Monday December 6, and a “Male Allies” session for men only on Wednesday December 8.

At the Council Assembly last week, male officers and politicians wore the White Ribbon to signify their allegiance to the cause of saying ‘No’ to violence, harassment and misogyny against women and girls, making a symbolic promise not to look the other way.

Leader of Southwark Council, Kieron Williams, said to the assembly: “It is not enough for men to just do the right thing in our own lives; we – all our sons, brothers and fathers need to play our part in ending abusive and violent behaviour by men towards women and girls.

“The call of the White Ribbon movement is for men to ‘not use violence, not excuse violence and not be silent about violence’. All men need to be advocates to stop this crisis.”

The council’s women’s safety survey, conducted between May and June this year in order to research local opinion following the murder of Sarah Everard, achieved 568 responses.

52 per cent of respondents felt ‘unsafe’ and 92 per cent cited their gender as a reason to feel unsafe.

A spokesperson for Solace Women’s Aid, a group which aims to support women and children who have suffered male violence and who advised the Council, told the News: “Male violence against women and girls is a societal problem. It’s misogyny that allows for a culture where all women need to think about their safety and 1 in 3 women have been abused and each week two women are killed by a current or former partner.

“It is also estimated that a further 3 women a week take their own lives as a result of their trauma. For this to stop we need men to join us in recognising and calling out toxic behaviours and in ending the violence.

“Southwark Council are taking this seriously,” they added, “the safe space programme, for instance, is a brilliant idea.”

Southwark Council’s safe space programme, announced on November 8 2021, provides 32 safe spaces across the borough for anyone experiencing violence or domestic abuse.

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Help in a safe space is free of charge and available to everyone – a person’s background, financial situation, nationality or immigration status do not matter.

“However,” added Solace, “as we provide safe spaces we increase the referrals to the domestic abuse provider that is already struggling with capacity.

“The project needs to be implemented with extra resources for the charities to be able to support the Women reporting to us via the safe space programme.

“Similarly, the workshops are an important step, but need to be delivered alongside a wider programme of services for survivors of male violence and prevention programmes in schools and with perpetrators.”

Solace themselves run a perpetrator programme for men who have had a history of being violent or abusive towards a partner, as well as offering a “Good Guys’ Guide.”


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