Content warning: This article contains reference to gender-based violence, sexual assault, and harassment.
The last couple of weeks have been emotionally challenging for women and minority genders. News of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard was followed by the release of a report concluding that 97% of women aged 18-24 have experienced sexual harassment and assault, and over 70% of women have experienced sexual harassment in a public space. This news, which followed International Women’s Day on Monday 8th March, served as a harsh reminder that there is still work to be done to address the issue of gender equality. We want to be part of the solution to making public spaces safe and inclusive for all.
We stand against victim blaming. We need to change the narrative that women, and other oppressed groups, are responsible for the actions of others and should change their behaviour or actions to keep themselves safe.
We’ve seen an outpouring of support from men across the country, coming forward to ask how they can help to make women safer.
So, what can you do to help?
We know it can seem overwhelming to know how to help and that you might be wondering what you can do that will make a meaningful impact. Here are 4 simple actions that you can take to be an ally to women:
- Listen – When people tell you about their experiences, actively listen and believe them.
- Talk – Talk to your friends about behaviours and speak up if they cross the line or use derogatory language.
- Educate – Research how gender inequality affects men, women and minority genders around the world. Gather and share these insights to make your voice heard. Change any behaviours you feel might be problematic, based on what you've learned.
- Support – Donate your time or money to organisations that support and protect victims of gender-based violence.
By working together, and having these important conversations, we can make a real change.
We will be providing opportunities for people of all genders and gender identities to come together and campaign against gender-based oppression on our streets. We encourage all our students to be allies for gender equality, and we encourage men in particular to help spread awareness and actively call out problematic behaviour they may witness.
Action Group and Vigil for Sarah Everard
We’re holding an online vigil on Friday 19th March at 7pm for staff and students to come together in solidarity and pay tribute to Sarah Everard. If you would like to join us, the vigil will be held on Facebook. We’d like this to be an opportunity for staff and students to have their voices heard. If you would like to submit any artwork, videos, poetry or words to be shown during the vigil, please email your contribution to the Women Students Community inbox.
We’re also forming an Action Group for staff and students to discuss and plan collective changes that we wish to act on moving forwards. To get involved, please email the Women Students Community inbox.
Support and Reporting
If you’ve been affected by recent events, there is a range of wellbeing support available to you including the University Counselling and Mental Health Service.
Find details of other available support services.
If you have been a victim of any form of harassment or a hate crime, you can report this using the University’s online reporting system. You can make a report anonymously or speak to a trained advisor to discuss your experience and access further support. You can also report hate crime to the Police online via True Vision.
Government Call for Evidence:
To reflect recent public discussions, the UK Government has reopened a call for evidence from those who have experienced crimes considered as Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). They are particularly keen to hear from people who may feel underrepresented in previous strategies or who feel their circumstances were not supported by existing services. Information collected will be used to help inform a new strategy to tackle these types of crimes. The call for evidence is open to all genders, and you do not have to have experienced violence and abuse yourself to take part. You can participate until 11:45pm on 26 March 2021 by completing the online survey.
The call for evidence is also available in Easy Read and British Sign Language.