<p>A woman holds a sign reading ‘male violence is a male problem'</p>

A woman holds a sign reading ‘male violence is a male problem'

The groups to support to help end violence against women and girls

‘Attitudes and gendered norms that underpin and normalise male violence must be tackled’, charities say

Saman Javed
Thursday 03 March 2022 11:48
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It has been a year since Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens.

In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police on the anniversary of her death, Everard’s family said she was “wonderful and we miss her all the time”.

“Our lives have changed forever and we live with the sadness of our loss. Sarah was wonderful and we miss her all the time,” the statement said.

“Over the past year we have been overwhelmed with the kindness shown to us, not just by family and friends, but by the wider public.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone for their support, it has meant a lot to us and has comforted us through this terrible time.”

In September last year, a court heard how Couzens used his Metropolitan Police-issued warrant card to kidnap Eveerard as she walked home from visiting friends in south London. Couzens has been given a whole life sentence.

Handing down the sentence, presiding judge Lord Justice Fulford said Couzens had “eroded the confidence that the public are entitled to have in the police” and “considerably added to the sense of insecurity that many have living in our cities, perhaps particularly women, when travelling by themselves”.

In their statement today, Everard’s family highlighted a culture of violence against women that persists in today’s society.

“Sadly, Sarah is not the only woman to have lost her life recently in violent circumstances and we would like to extend our deepest sympathy to other families who are also grieving,” they said.

According to Counting Dead Women, a project that tracks femicide in the UK, 141 women were killed (or suspected to have been killed) by a man in 2021.

Last week, Koci Selamaj, 36, pleaded guilty to the murder of 28-year-old primary school teacher Sabina Nessa while she was walking to meet a friend on 17 September 2021.

The deaths of Everard and Nessa, who were walking alone on routes they would have been familiar with, left women across the country feeling outraged, devastated, scared and hopeless. And their deaths are by no means isolated.

Charities and rights groups have long been calling for structural change against an “epidemic” of violence against women.

Here are some of the key organisations you can support.

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid is a UK-wide charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.

Some of its core work includes helping ensure that women who come forward about abuse are believed.

Its latest campaign, #DeserveToBeHeard, calls for recognition of the impact that domestic abuse has on the mental health of women and their children.

The group has urged the police to embark on an “urgent programme of restorative work” to regain the confidence of women.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said there needs to be institutional and systemic change.

She has called on police forces to work with specialist organisations, like themselves, to “ensure that all police staff are trained adequately to improve the response given to all women who have experienced violence and domestic abuse”.

“This would also address some of the deep-seated inequalities and sexist attitudes that still exist across so many police forces,” she said.

Donate to Women’s Aid here.

Sisters Uncut

Sisters Uncut, a feminist direct action group that campaigns for the improvement of domestic and sexual violence services, have called for an end to police violence.

Sisters Uncut has asked the public to support its campaign, calling a national demonstration for people to withdraw their consent from police power.

Sisters Uncut protest outside the Old Bailey

The group is inviting the public to gather outside Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, at 5pm on Saturday 12 March.

The date marks the one-year anniversary of the Clapham Common vigil, led by Sisters Uncut, where women were arrested by Metropolitan police officers.

Speaking after Couzens’ sentencing last September, a member of Sister’s Uncut said he was “not one bad apple”.

“Today we learned that Wayne Couzens ‘arrested’ Sarah,” they said.

“He used his power as a police officer to kidnap and rape her. We will never know what might have happened if somebody had stopped to film or intervene with Couzens when he ‘arrested’ Sarah.

“Couzens was not one bad apple – it’s the whole institution that is rotten.”

Learn more about how you can support Sisters Uncut here.

Reclaim These Streets

Reclaim These Streets is campaigning for safer public spaces, arguing that streets should be safe for women regardless of what they are wearing, where they are going, or at what time of day or night they are travelling.

The group said it is wrong that “the response to violence against women required women to behave differently”.

Following Everard’s murder, the group has been campaigning to raise awareness of an “epidemic” of violence against women.

“Let all loudly say that women are not the problem. They never have been.

“The burden that society places on us to keep safe is put there to distract us from the fact that until we demand that male violence is treated like the epidemic that is, we will never be safe,” it said.

Learn more about how you can support Reclaim These Streets here.

End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAWC)

This is a coalition of specialist women’s support services, researchers, activists and survivors.

The coalition has built refuges for women and children needing to flee violent men and created woman-centred rape counselling services.

Their work also recognises the different dynamics of abuse that women from different backgrounds face. They have employed women from ethnic minority backgrounds to create services specifically tailored to these groups.

In its new Violence Against Women and Girls Snapshot Report 2021-2022, published today, the EVAWC said the government must make “significant investment” in preventing violence.

The group said this means “addressing harmful attitudes and addressing perpetrator behaviour”.

“It needs major financial support for the specialist VAWG sector, including organisations led ‘by and for’ Black and minoritised women.

“It needs measures that go beyond the traditional ideas of ‘public space’ to tackle VAWG that takes place online. And it requires fundamental transformation of the criminal justice system if it is have any hope of delivering justice for all victims and survivors who come forward to report.”

Donate to EVAWC here.

The Centre for Women’s Justice

The Centre for Women’s Justice is a group of lawyers and academics who work to hold the government to account, and challenge discrimination against women in the justice system.

The centre identifies failures in the prevention of violence against women and monitors trends in policy and the law which are further spurring the issue.

In 2019, the group submitted its first police super-complaint. The report highlighted how four different types of measures designed to protect victims of domestic abuse were being used poorly in many policing areas.

The centre is currently collecting funds to help women who suffered domestic abuse from partners that work in the police force.

“When women are abused by men working within the police they struggle to be heard,” the group said.

“Your donations will provoke change in how police deal with abusers within the force and provide access to justice for failed victims.”

Donate to the Centre for Women’s Justice here.

Making Herstory

Making Herstory is a UK-based charity working to end the abuse, enslavement and trafficking of women and girls.

The charity undertakes various projects, including education programmes with schools and local councils.

It also provides emergency aid and essential items for survivors and supports shelters for women and their children.

Additionally, it is lobbying for policy change to better protect women and girls from violence. This includes a campaign to introduce a “national stalker register”.

According to the charity, between 2015-2017, 55 women were murdered by their stalkers, despite having made detailed reports of their fears to the police or courts.

Although stalking is a criminal offence, there is currently no existing framework to track or monitor stalkers.

Donate to Making Herstory here.

Women’s Equality Party

The Women’s Equality Party is a feminist political party that was established in 2015.

The party is pushing for equal representation of women in all aspects of society, including politics, business and industry. Its manifesto aims to tackle existing imbalances, such as the pay gap.

It also recognises physical and sexual violence against women as a public health problem.

Learn more about how you can support the Women’s Equality Party here.

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