How Labour could go further in reducing violence against women


9:31 am - May 28th 2013

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by Holly Dustin

A report by the Deputy Children’s Commissioner last week found that children, especially boys, are viewing violent pornography and that this is influencing their behaviour.

This is highly disturbing and comes swiftly after our own report, Deeds or Words? which found that the government is failing in its promise to prevent abuse of women and girls.

So why isn’t this a political priority?

The background to these reports is a growing body of evidence to show that young women and girls are targeted for certain types of abuse by men and boys, some of which is linked to new technology.

Recent research on ‘sexting’ by the NSPCC, which found it to be often coercive and linked to abusive behaviour, was tragically highlighted by the case of 13 year old Chevonea Kendall-Bryan who fell to her death pleading with a boy to delete indecent images of her. Our own polling in 2010 found that one in three girls in the UK said they had been ‘groped’ or experienced other unwanted sexual touching at school.

An Ofsted report found that poor quality Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in over a third of schools was leaving children vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation.

We were delighted when Yvette Cooper MP Labour would make SRE compulsory in order to teach young people about sexual consent, and respectful and equal relationships. But SRE is one part of a much broader package of work that is urgently needed if we genuinely want to prevent abuse before it begins.

So, as Labour’s manifesto work progresses, we want to see concrete commitments to:

1) Run a long-term public campaigns to change abusive attitudes and behaviours (similar to the ongoing drink-driving campaigns which have changed attitudes to seat-belts and drink driving over a number of decades)

2) Make SRE compulsory as part of a ‘whole-school approach’ to tackling violence against women and girls which would include ongoing teacher training so that teachers are equipped and confident to identify and respond to the signs of abuse

3) Tackling misogynistic messages through the media and social media that condone abuse. Hats off to the fantastic campaign targeting rape and domestic violence pages on Facebook. The Children’s Commissioner’s report has highlighted children’s access to violent pornography and the disturbing murders Tia Sharp and April Jones cases reportedly include pornographic images, including images of rape and incest. We are supporting a campaign by Croydon Rape Crisis to make possession of simulated images of rape porn illegal.

4) Funding women’s groups to run innovative prevention projects in the community, and to ensure that all women and girls experiencing abuse, either now or in the past, have access to specialist women’s support services.

We are calling on our political leaders, both men and women, to be aspirational and to say that violence against women and girls is not inevitable, and they will take action to prevent it. A world that is safe and equal for women and girls is possible, and we now need to make the promise a reality.


Holly Dustin is at End Violence Against Women Coaltion

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Reader comments


I don’t suppose you would be interested in discussing this matter based on the facts, would you?

The concern that countries allowing pornography and liberal anti-obscenity laws would show increased sex crime rates due to modeling or that children or adolescents in particular would be negatively vulnerable to and receptive to such models or that society would be otherwise adversely effected is not supported by evidence.

It is certainly clear from the data reviewed, and the new data and analysis presented, that a massive increase in available pornography in Japan, the United States and elsewhere has been correlated with a dramatic decrease in sexual crimes and most so among youngsters as perpetrators or victims.

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/DIAM/effects_pornography.htm

All (non-consensual) sexual violence is unacceptable but the evidence suggests that the way to reduce it is to encourage pornography, not ban it.

Of course I can well understand why that inconvenient fact does not sit well with the feminist notion that it is possible to change the essential nature of the male sexual drive by complaining a lot.

2. So Much For Subtlety

A report by the Deputy Children’s Commissioner last week found that children, especially boys, are viewing violent pornography and that this is influencing their behaviour.

Sorry but why is it disturbing? If more young people choose to be involved in alternative life styles what business is it of yours? As long as everyone consents. And everyone does consent in that violent pornography now don’t they? Why is it that individuals exploring their sexuality and sexual options gets you so worried? Why do you think it is a threat?

Recent research on ‘sexting’ by the NSPCC, which found it to be often coercive and linked to abusive behaviour, was tragically highlighted by the case of 13 year old Chevonea Kendall-Bryan who fell to her death pleading with a boy to delete indecent images of her.

I fail to see how this is abusive or coercive. A girl freely gave a boy a sexually explicit photo. Where is the coercion? Was she pushed?

Now obviously girls should not do that, but they are girls and they will do silly things. As will boys. That is why they should not be having sex.

Our own polling in 2010 found that one in three girls in the UK said they had been ‘groped’ or experienced other unwanted sexual touching at school.

For an exceptionally generous definition of sexual touching I am sure.

An Ofsted report found that poor quality Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) in over a third of schools was leaving children vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation.

Vulnerable? What does that mean? Let me guess, they do not employ anyone with the right ideology to harrange the little ‘uns?

We were delighted when Yvette Cooper MP Labour would make SRE compulsory in order to teach young people about sexual consent, and respectful and equal relationships.

Sure, money for the siblings. That is what it is all about innit?

2) Make SRE compulsory as part of a ‘whole-school approach’ to tackling violence against women and girls which would include ongoing teacher training so that teachers are equipped and confident to identify and respond to the signs of abuse

More money for the siblings – and making the correct political attitudes compulsory for employment in the public service sector. Interesting. But it is all about the money innit?

We are supporting a campaign by Croydon Rape Crisis to make possession of simulated images of rape porn illegal.

So someone might be jailed for a photo of a statue of Leda and the swan?

4) Funding women’s groups to run innovative prevention projects in the community, and to ensure that all women and girls experiencing abuse, either now or in the past, have access to specialist women’s support services.

More cash for the siblings? It is all about the money innit?

Dustin:

We were delighted when Yvette Cooper MP Labour would make SRE compulsory in order to teach young people about sexual consent, and respectful and equal relationships. But SRE is one part of a much broader package of work that is urgently needed if we genuinely want to prevent abuse before it begins.

Except the five points that follow are a much narrower focus on ‘women and girls’ (homophobia? transgender teens? abused boys? presumably not an SRE issue). Even as I agree with the idea of mandatory and age-appropriate SRE, and Dustin’s long-term aims, there ‘pitch’ of this article is to make groups like EVAW the ‘gatekeepers’ on SRE education in the manner of allowing the Temperance League to teach alcohol awareness. SRE could teach kids a better understanding of porn, but I fear that what Dustin wants instead is a SRE programme that makes them not use it at all, ever (and that’s just the women).

PS: The idea of making ‘possession of simulated images of rape porn illegal’ would not only affect anyone with a copy of A Clockwork Orange of Irreversible, but is probably *already* covered by the ‘Extreme Pornography Act.’

“tackling misogynistic messages through the media and social media that condone abuse. Hats off to the fantastic campaign targeting rape and domestic violence pages on Facebook. The Children’s Commissioner’s report has highlighted children’s access to violent pornography and the disturbing murders Tia Sharp and April Jones cases reportedly include pornographic images, including images of rape and incest. We are supporting a campaign by Croydon Rape Crisis to make possession of simulated images of rape porn illegal.”

This, in my opinion, is the kind of authoritarian censorship the left should never, ever engage in or condone.


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