22 November 2013

16 Days of Action events to end violence against women

More than 16,000 women experienced domestic violence and abuse, sexual assault or stalking in Brighton & Hove last year. This shocking figure comes as a programme of events is unveiled to mark 16 Days of Action to End Violence against Women and Girls (25 November – 10 December).

The individual, economic and social cost to the city of domestic and sexual violence and abuse alone is estimated to be £143 million per annum.

Events marking the 16 Days include the “Reclaim the Night” organised march through the city, a “Living Library” where you can meet ordinary people affected by domestic abuse and hear their stories, a public meeting highlighting the links between media sexism and the attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination against women and girls, as well as Charity Chuckle comedy night to Stand Up to End Violence Against Women at Komedia.

Sara – not her real name – was being assaulted by her ex-partner and describes reporting it to the police as one of the most challenging things she has ever had to do.

“I was convinced that I would be rejected. It t took me a very long time to even make it to the Police Station. Once there, I burst into tears and waited to speak to an officer. After making a long statement and having my pictures taken, I left feeling light as a feather and so glad that someone had listened to me and identified that something was wrong. From that point, he wasn’t able to make excuses or justify his actions. The silence was broken.

“Over time, the dust does settle. My ex-partner pleaded guilty, he was charged with two counts of assault and a restraining order was put in place. My next job was to focus on the children, they had been removed from his care and were hurting. They missed their father but they knew what he did was wrong. They had explained what had happened to our social worker without being prompted but it seemed bittersweet as all contact was cut off for months until it was deemed safe.

“RISE worked with my middle child to help her understand her position in all of this and how to remain safe and in control. Today she seems to grasp the challenges ahead of her, understand the family dynamic and what she can do to ensure she feels safe in all situations.”

Brighton & Hove has been awarded ‘White Ribbon City’ status in recognition of its commitment to the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), a global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.

Cllr Jason Kitcat, Brighton & Hove City Council Leader and chair of the Community Safety Forum, said:

“Crimes like domestic violence, rape, forced marriage and sexual exploitation disproportionately effect women and are most often perpetrated by known men, to exert power and control. Nearly half of women are likely to experience such violence in their lifetime, and it is a cause and consequence of gender inequality and breach of human rights.

“It’s vital that all city partners work together to tackle domestic violence and abuse from educating school children about healthy relationships, providing direct advice and help to those affected or offering a refuge to those directly under threat.”

Penny Thompson, Brighton & City Council chief executive, said:

“Last year in the city we estimated that nearly 6,000 women experienced domestic violence or abuse, nearly 3,000 experienced sexual assault and over 7,000 were victims of stalking. Much of this goes unreported, yet it has a devastating impact on victims, families and communities.

“This is why the council and its partners are committed to taking coordinated action to deal with violence against women.

“I would urge everyone to get involved in the events taking place such as the RISE Living Library at Jubilee Library where you can hear real stories of survival and hope.”

Dr Tom Scanlon, Brighton & Hove City Council Director of Public Health, said:

“The estimates for violence against women in Brighton & Hove are truly shocking. This is really a public health concern, and an issue that needs the co-ordinated efforts of police, the council, health and the voluntary sector if we want to tackle it effectively. This White Ribbon Campaign demonstrates our determination to do just that and I am very pleased that Brighton & Hove City Council is taking part.”

Paula Murray, Brighton & Hove City Council assistant chief executive and Violence Against Women & Girls programme board chair, said:

“It’s so encouraging to see such a great and wide ranging programme for the 16 Days initiative and this is exactly the kind of thing to bring lots of organisations and individuals together under the White Ribbon City banner to raise awareness and work for change.”

Brighton & Hove Chief Superintendent Neville Kemp said:

“Women are disproportionately the victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse and we are committed to a co-ordinated approach to tackle this abuse. Of course this does not mean other victims will receive any less of a service it just reflects our understanding of the complexities associated with violence against women. We are committed to providing protection and access to support for all victims of violence and abuse, and to bringing all offenders to justice”

The programme of events comprises

Reclaim the Night

Saturday 16 November

6pm start at Brighton train station, ending with a rally at the Jubilee Library. FREE

Come Walk, Roll, Skate, Dance and Chat down the streets of Brighton to remind this city that we have every right to be safe on the streets at night. Reclaim the Night Brighton is open to people of all genders. Our march is trans* inclusive and we welcome those working in the sex industry to join us in the fight for safer streets. Families are also welcome.

For those who think they’ll be marching at a slower pace there will be the option of space at the front of the march. A buddy system will be in place for those who don’t want to walk alone. If you would like to be allocated a buddy to attend the event with, please send a facebook message to Brighton Feminist Collective or email us at brightonfeministcollective@gmail.com

Survivors’ Network Birthday Open Mic Evening

Sunday 24 November

6a Pavilion Buildings, Brighton. 5-9pm. FREE, drinks and cake for donations.

To celebrate 23 years supporting survivors of sexual violence, Survivors’ Network will be hosting an open mic evening. Local performers will be singing, reading poetry, playing tunes and entertaining a cosy and enthusiastic audience.


RISE Living Library – Putting People in the Picture

Thursday 28 November

Jubilee Library, Brighton. 2–5.30pm. FREE

The RISE Living Library is established in the Brighton events calendar as ‘unmissable’. Come to the Living Library and speak informally with ‘Living Books’. Meet ordinary people affected by domestic abuse and discover stories of survival and hope. The event is free – all you need is curiosity and an open mind. Full information is on our website www.riseuk.org.uk

Speak Out on Sexism

Thursday 5 December

Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton. Doors 7pm. Start 7.30pm. FREE

Highlighting links between media sexism and attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination against women and girls; supporting women in speaking out.

SPEAKERS include Melissa Benn, Lucy-Anne Holmes from No More Page 3, Lili from the Twitter Youth Feminist Army, Holly Dustin from End Violence Against Women, Lia Latchford from Imkaan and Jean Calder from For Our Daughters.

PERFORMANCES by singer Sophie Pointer, comedian Kate Smurthwaite and poet Sabrina Mahfouz.

COMPERED by Caroline Lucas MP

HOSTED by Brighton Women’s Voices

Charity Chuckle – Stand Up to End Violence Against Women

Tuesday 10 December

Komedia, Brighton. Doors 7pm, show 8pm. Tickets: £15 or £10 concessions. Book at the Komedia Box Office or online.

Celebrate the grand finalé of 2013’s #16Days with a fabulous night of top-notch comedy. Raising awareness and funds for Rise and Survivors’ Network, it’s guaranteed to put the fun into fundraising! Featuring TV’s Sara Pascoe, Zoe Lyons, Katherine Ryan, Angela Barnes and more. Book now! 16+