2021 has been a ‘watershed moment’ for challenging violence against women πŸ’₯πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ’₯

THE last year has been a watershed moment for women’s safety after a series of high-profile killings thrust male violence into the spotlight, a charity boss and campaigner said today.

Andrea Simon, head of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said that 2021 has been an β€œunprecedented year” in terms of discussion of the issue, but that many of the government’s responses have β€œmissed the mark.”

Her warning comes after a shocking string of cases this year, including the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens, the suspected murder-suicide of Gracie Spinks by her alleged stalker Michael Sellars, and the conviction of Danyal Hussein for the murder of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in 2020.

The deaths of police community support officer Julia James and teacher Sabina Nessa were also subject to high-profile murder investigations this year.

Male suspects have been charged in each case.

Ms Simon said: β€œWe’ve had case after case of high-profile murders and killings of women.

β€œBut it’s also been an unprecedented year in terms of how much we’re talking about violence against women and girls, which means that for many it feels like a watershed moment, like there’s an opportunity now to really do something to end violence against women.

β€œHowever, I think many of the solutions and the responses from government, and in the criminal justice system, have missed the mark.

β€œWe haven’t gone as far as we should have done. And we haven’t moved as quickly in terms of making things better for women and girls who report abuse.”

The murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Ms Everard, in Clapham, south London, prompted an outpouring of protest over women’s lack of safety, and resulted in an additional 180,000 submissions to the government’s strategy on tackling violence against women and girls.

It led to a range of new measures, including a public campaign β€œfocused on creating behavioural change” to challenge misogyny in society, as well as pledges to ensure police know how to effectively respond to allegations.

The government also said it would look at whether street design features could help improve personal safety in public.

But its own record on the problem has also come heavily into question this year, as Home Secretary Priti Patel backed the Met Police over its storming of a vigil for Ms Everard and joined other Tory ministers in issuing a formal apology for the government’s dismal record on rape convictions.

Ms Simon said: β€œIt’s not a new issue β€” but we’re talking about it now.

β€œEven though we’re having these conversations, the conversations have not moved to focusing on men’s behaviour and how we can deal with male perpetrators of abuse.

β€œA lot of the responses from government – for example, increased CCTV and street lighting – are still putting the onus on women and girls to change their behaviour, and to modify where they go and when they go, in order to keep themselves safe.

β€œWe cannot do that β€” the focus has to be on preventing and tackling male violence.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was not right that women and girls should feel the need to change their routes home, or the clothing they wear, in order to feel safe from men.

β€œWe’re going to tackle the behaviour of men that’s leading them to feel scared, and it starts at school,” he said.

β€œIt starts with boys being told how to respect girls, and about healthy relationships.”

2021 has been a ‘watershed moment’ for challenging violence against women

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