Greater Manchester proposes 10-year plan to prevent abuse and violence against women and girls

The city-region's Gender-Based Abuse Strategy has been published now in light of the tragic Sarah Everard case in London.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:05 pm

Residents are being asked for their views on the measures being suggested to comprehensively tackle abuse and violence against women and girls while working to radically alter attitudes and the culture around the issue in the city-region.

Both Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and deputy mayor Baroness Beverley Hughes stressed there are no quick fixes to these problems but committed themselves to long-term work to find solutions.

The document calls for a comprehensive overhaul of how victims of gender-based abuse and violence are treated by the police and the criminal justice system, for misogyny to be officially classed as a hate crime, for tackling harassment of women in public, including on the transport system and for challenging and eradicating unacceptable behaviour.

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A comprehensive strategy to tackle gender-based violence is being launched

Gender-based abuse and violence covers everything from street and workplace harassment to bullying, threatening and stalking to domestic abuse and violence to sexual violence and rape committed by strangers, acquaintances and family members to femicide and so-called honour killings to female genital mutilation.

Shocking statistics show one in four women in the UK will experience some form of sexual abuse or domestic violence during their lives, while in Greater Manchester 36 per cent of all violent crime reported to the police entails domestic abuse.

The strategy was originally due to be published later this year but its release has been brought forward due to the huge public interest and anger over the issue in the wake of Miss Everard's death.

Baroness Hughes said: "It seems right, because of the contest, to go forward with an informal process.

"We seek a radical transformation in our approach to gender-based abuse women and girls will experience and a step change in incidents of abuse and violence against them.

"Power deficiencies still exist between women and men. Too many men feel entitled to do and say whatever they wish to women and disrespect and harm them with impunity.

"We frequently hear this sense of entitlement amplified by powerful men in business and politics or as celebrities who boast in the media or sometimes on the world stage about how they are able to abuse women.

"This is about changing attitudes. It has to be a sustained strategy to change the story of violence against women and girls."

Baroness Hughes said she would co-chair a new board overseeing the strategy with a survivor of domestic abuse or violence, with women's organisations and survivors' groups put front and centre in monitoring the implementation of the document.

She said that even if the Government did not back the current trial of misogyny being classed a hate crime Greater Manchester would work to see how far it could go in implementing measures to treat it as such.

She also said there needed to be many changes in how gender-based abuse and violence victims are dealt with by the police and courts.

The first priority for the Gender Abuse Board will be to review how domestic abuse cases are managed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and improve the service to victims.

Footage from body-worn cameras is being reviewed to suggest improvements in how officers treat women when they go to houses where incidents have been reported.

Baroness Hughes said the experience of going to court too often felt "retraumatising" for women.

The strategy backs the Reclaim the Night campaign to ensure the streets and public places are safe for women after dark, for more advocacy services for women, an emergency contact system for public transport and measures for housing providers to rehouse perpetrators of domestic abuse and violence rather than women and children.

It also wants collaborative work with local authorities on Public Space Protection Orders to prevent harm and abuse and for an education campaign against catcalling, wolf whistling and other similar behaviours which women face.

She also called on leaders in the city-region to step up and help with efforts to challenge and change behaviour.

Mr Burnham said he would lead a high-profile campaign to get men and boys to think about how they talk about and treat women and girls.

He said: "We have all witnessed the powerful outpouring and calls for change when it comes to women and girls' safety. This isn't proposing an easy, quick fix or single solution.

"This is a long-term challenge that will require culture changes on every level, both individuals changing and challenging their own behaviour and public organisations and businesses.

"It is a whole societal change we need to see."

The Greater Manchester Victims' Service is available on 0161 200 1950 or at gmvictims.org.uk

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