Mayor of London launches new #HaveAWord campaign to tackle male violence against women

The initiative directly addresses men and boys to reflect on their behaviour

Kate Ng
Monday 14 March 2022 11:22
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Mayor of London launches new campaign to tackle male violence against women and girls

The Mayor of London has launched a new campaign to address male violence against women and girls (VAWG), supported by football and rugby clubs across the capital.

The #HaveAWord campaign aims to speak directly to men and boys and encourages them to “have a word” with themselves and their friends to “challenge sexist attitudes and inappropriate behaviour”.

Sadiq Khan launched the initiative on Monday with a video posted to his Twitter account. The campaign will also premiere during the match between Crystal Palace and Manchester City at Selhurst Park on Monday evening.

The film shows a group of men on a night out who spot a girl waiting for her taxi on her own and proceed to harass her.

One of the men approaches the woman and sits next to her, before trying to initiate conversation by offering her one of his crisps. He then continues to try and speak to the woman even though she looks clearly uncomfortable and tries to walk away from him.

Meanwhile, another man in the group named Jacob grapples with his conscience, who asks him: “What are you doing? You need to say something. This isn’t a joke anymore.”

Finally, Jacob speaks up and tells his friend: “That’s enough.”

The campaign video ends with the message: “Male violence against women and girls starts with words. If you see it happening, have a word with yourself, then your mates.”

The campaign is supported by Patrick Vieira, manager of Premier League club Crystal Palace, Byron Webster, captain of the Bromley Football club, and Marcus Gayle, former footballer and current Brentford coach and ambassador.

In a bid to reach more men and boys, the campaign’s message will be screened on public billboards and online, as well as in football and rugby stadiums across London.

It will also be installed on mirrors inside men’s bathrooms in the stadiums of top London football clubs, including Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal and West Ham, as well as rugby clubs including Harlequins and Saracens.

The goal is to direct men to “reflect on their own behaviour and to challenge the harmful behaviour of those around them”, according to the Mayor of London.

Fans will also receive an open letter from Khan in their match day programmes, signed by 19 football and rugby clubs, that will ask men to “reflect on the way they personally view, treat and talk about women”.

Research by UN Women UK shows that 71 per cent of all women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space. The figure rises to 86 per cent among 18 to 24-year-olds.

The campaign comes after the first anniversary of the death of Sarah Everard earlier this month. Everard was abducted, raped and murdered by serving Met police officer Wayne Couzens in March 2021. Couzens is now serving a whole life tariff.

Her death sparked outrage and fears over women’s safety in the UK. Since March 2021, at least 125 women have been killed in the UK, figures from the Counting Dead Women project shows.

Khan said: “In London and across the country we are facing an epidemic of violence against women and girls, committed by men. This must unsettle us all and force us to take a long hard look at ourselves.

“As men, we need to be reflecting on the way we view, treat and talk about women. That’s why this new campaign is talking directly to men and boys to get the message across that words matter and there is a link between misogyny and violence.

“I want all of us to be challenging sexism and misogyny – whether it’s on the streets or online in a group chat, at home or in the pub – because we all have a responsibility to raise our voices to prevent violence and to help keep women and girls safe.”

Dr Akima Thomas OBE, clinical director and co-founder of the Women and Girls Network, welcomed the initiative to hold “men directly to account for the perpetuation of VAWG”.

“For too long, the focus of explanations for VAWG have centred on the attitudes and behaviours of women and girls, turning the lens to focus and challenge male privilege and entitlement disrupts the harm of VAWG at its source and will drive meaningful structurally embedded change to create a legacy for a fair and just society.”

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