Calls to stand up against violence towards women in Portsmouth on White Ribbon Day
Public figures in Portsmouth, from footballers, to politicians and teachers are urging others to follow their lead by making the White Ribbon Day Promise.
By signing the promise participants are vowing never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women in line with the annual White Ribbon Day marked globally today (November 25).
It comes as experts are warning awareness is needed more than ever before, with refuge provider Stop Domestic Abuse (SDA) seeing a 92 per cent rise in service users from February to December 2020.
Claire Lambon, the chief executive officer of SDA, said: ‘Calls to Stop Domestic Abuse increased by 51 per cent in the first three months of lockdown compared to the previous three months and by December 2020, we were supporting 92 per cent more clients than before the pandemic began in February 2020.
‘The pandemic does not cause domestic abuse, perpetrators were able to use lockdowns to control and manipulate their victims. With restricted access to support, many victims felt like the pandemic was, yet another tool of abuse used by their perpetrator.’
As part of its White Ribbon Day campaign SDA has been working with Portsmouth Football Club and the city council to raise awareness.
This has included making a video with Pompey footballers Louis Thompson and Joe Morrell discussing the issue with experts. The footage will then be shared across social media platforms and broadcast at football games.
Ms Lambon added: ‘It is unacceptable that in 2021 women and girls all over the world continue to be subject to violence simply because of their gender. A collective effort is required to challenge behaviours, perceptions, and attitudes.
‘Working with Portsmouth Football Club gives us the platform to reach a wider audience and together we will raise awareness of male violence against women and call on all men to act so that violence against women is prevented before it starts.
‘I want to encourage all men to listen to women and learn to be allies, so that we can end violence against women once and for all.’
The shelter has also planned a further 15 days of campaigning after today, including raising awareness of stalking, abuse in the BAME community and a day of memory for victims.
Nationally there was also an increase in incidents of domestic abuse during the pandemic. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics there were 49,756 calls to a helpline, run by Refuge, in England over the year to March 2021 – up 22 per cent from the previous year.
Dr Shonagh Dillon, the chief executive of Portsmouth-based domestic abuse charity Aurora new Dawn, said the issue of violence was not new.
‘Although we saw an increase in referrals to our services during the pandemic this is not a new problem,’ she said.
‘Every day as women we automatically and unconsciously risk assess our lives and the choices we make.
‘It is vital to acknowledge the breadth of the issue of male violence against women, we know that at least 123 women have been killed by men in the UK this year, that is 123 families mourning a loved one and we mark the day by honouring them and remembering them.’
Police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, Donna Jones, recently established a specific task group aimed at tackling violence against women and girls.
The group will focus on reducing offences occurring in the first place by identifying issues early on, building confidence in reporting and making sure victims are adequately supported, and expediting the legal process.
She welcomed the support of Pompey and other local sports groups such as Hampshire FA and Hampshire Cricket for White Ribbon Day.
Mrs Jones said: ‘Traditionally preventing violence against women and girls has been the responsibility of females leading to them altering their behaviours to stay safe. It is not right that women don’t feel safe to walk home alone.
‘White Ribbon Day is about men stepping up and speaking out. All men can make a difference by thinking carefully about their own behaviour and being prepared to call out sexist and harassing behaviour when they see it.
‘Sports players are often role models and the fact that they are supporting this will encourage younger generations.’
Other public figures in Portsmouth to sign the White Ribbon Promise include MP Stephen Morgan MP, Superintendent Clare Jenkins, Commodore Bailey from the Royal Navy, Pompey manager Danny Cowley and editor of The News, Mark Waldron.
Members of the public are invited to wear a white ribbon today to show solidarity. To make the White Ribbon Promise visit whiteribbon.org.uk/promise.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic abuse and needs support, contact Stop Domestic Abuse on 023 9206 5494 or [email protected].
In an emergency always call 999. To report an incident, call the police on 101 or visit hampshire.police.uk.