Duchess of Cornwall calls for end to violence against women and pays tribute to lives ‘brutally ended’

Camilla calls for men to help ‘break the wall of silence that allows perpetrators to go unpunished’

Joe Middleton
Thursday 28 October 2021 00:46
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<p>The Duchess of Cornwall pictured at the Shameless! Festival at the Wellcome Collection in London on Wednesday </p>

The Duchess of Cornwall pictured at the Shameless! Festival at the Wellcome Collection in London on Wednesday

The Duchess of Cornwall has paid tribute to women whose lives have been “brutally ended” and implored that their names must “never be forgotten”.

In a passionate speech at the reception for the Shameless! Festival at the Wellcome Collection in London, Camilla called for action to prevent violence against women.

She acknowledged a number of women who have died in violent circumstances, including Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Wenjing Lin, Geetika Goyal and Bennylyn Burke.

Camilla recalled a victim impact statement read out in court by Sarah Everard’s mother, Susan, describing it as “searing”, and said that each of the women she named “endured unimaginable torment”.

“Together, today, let us resolve to support survivors to be ‘shameless’ and not to take on misplaced feelings of stigma,” she said.

“Through speaking up about our experiences, we break the wall of silence that allows perpetrators to go unpunished and increases the feeling of isolation that so many survivors describe.”

She also urged for men to get involved in the movement, saying they need to be “on board” to tackle violence against women.

“Because how many more women must be harassed, raped or murdered before we truly unite to forge a violence-free world?” Camilla added.

She said that a crime survey for England and Wales showed that 144,000 women were victims of rape or attempted rape in the last year, which equates to roughly 16 every hour.

Camilla said she hoped the upcoming Shameless! Festival - a collaboration between the WOW (Women of the World) Foundation, of which she is president, and Birkbeck, University of London’s SHaME (Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters) project - would help create the world free from violence against women.

Ahead of the reception, Camilla met with Jude Kelly, founder and director of the WOW Foundation, and Julia Gillard, chairwoman of Wellcome, which is supporting the festival.

Other guests at the event included Carrie Johnson, members of the WOW Foundation and representatives of Birkbeck’s SHaME project.

The Shameless! Festival will take place at Battersea Arts Centre on November 27, where it aims to “bring together activism and art to confront and change attitudes towards sexual violence”.

Camilla has previously been an advocate for preventing and addressing the issue of sexual violence and harassment.

In 2017, she worked with Boots to launch the Wash Bag Project, a scheme that provides a wash bag of toiletries to sexual abuse survivors across the UK.

In September, the duchess was named patron of the Mirabel Sexual Assault Centre in Lagos.

Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy, who also was at the event, said: “I think this is such a powerful, potent, and timely festival that they’re organising.

“I was blown away by what the Duchess of Cornwall said. I think it shows that there is a revolution taking place where women are not going to take it anymore. I think this festival could be a powerful part of that.”

Additional reporting by PA

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