New Portsmouth forum established to tackle violence against women and girls

DETERMINED campaigners from Portsmouth have set up a new community forum to tackle to ‘heartbreaking’ issue of male violence against women and girls.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:47 pm
Claire Lambon from Stop Domestic Abuse and member of the forum to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

Made up of grassroots community organisations, sector providers and survivors of violence and abuse from the city, the forum has officially launched in line with international White Ribbon Day (November 25), which is also dedicated to the problem.

Members say the forum will allow the different groups to ‘mobilise and connect’, as well as communicate updates from various sectors across the city to tackle violence, abuse and harassment directed towards women and girls.

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Councillor Kirsty Mellor a member of the forum to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

It will also work to improve the criminal justice response to violence and abuse, whilst enhancing the quality of support for victims and survivors.

One forum participant Claire Lambon, from Stop Domestic Abuse, said: ‘To successfully prevent violence against women and girls, both now and in the future, it is essential to tackle the root causes of violence, which includes challenging societal and cultural norms that can lead to violence. A grassroots violence against women and girls (VAWG) forum in Portsmouth will bring organisations and groups together to work with communities to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls and create sustainable, long-term change.’

Ahead of its launch the group met in October as part of a roundtable event held by Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan – who has signed the White Ribbon Day Promise.

Labour councillor and founder of the forum, Kirsty Mellor, said: ‘No woman should have to live her life in fear and every girl in Portsmouth should grow up in a city that is safe. By bringing the voices of survivors together we can collectively shape the future and safety of all women and girls in our city.’

Harriet Evens from the Pompey Safe Space scheme and a member of the forum to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

Her colleague, Cllr Charlotte Gerada, added: ‘It is heart-breaking to hear how frequently women and girls experience sexual assault, drink spiking, violence and rape in Portsmouth. The issue of violence against women and girls doesn’t seem to be improving and the incidents I hear about from young women now, are ones I experienced myself growing up in the city.

‘Now is the time for an urgent, city-wide, collective effort to stop this violence for good and the forum couldn’t be more important in making that a reality.’

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic abuse and needs support, contact Stop Domestic Abuse on 023 9206 5494 or [email protected]

Gemma Green, a VAWG consultant and member of the forum to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

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Councillor Charlotte Gerada, a member of the forum to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)