Elimination of violence against Women – 16 days of activism highlight growing issue

Main image UN Women.

The United Nation’s Elimination of Violence against Women Day (25 November) comes amid rising domestic violence rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will mark 16 days of activism against gender-based violence ending on 10 December – with the 2020 global theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The police and domestic abuse services across Avon and Somerset are urging local people to play their part and to help put a stop to violence against women and girls as part of the international campaign – which they say “has never been more important.”

According to annual Bristol Women’s Voice report, women continue to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have been put more at risk of domestic abuse as a result of safety precautions such as lockdowns. 

Local domestic abuse leaders and services want victims and survivors of domestic abuse to know they can leave their house to escape a dangeroussituation or relationship.

Coronavirus household isolation does not apply if victims need to leave their home to protect themselves or their family against violence. 

Despite the pandemic, local victim services have adapted to ensure support and help is still available to women and girls who have faced violence, no matter how long ago it took place.

This support is being delivered remotely via phone, webchat and video chat, and their helplines remain active.

Support services will work with survivors to help them make the right choices that are best for them and their families. 

Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Sixteen days of activism shines a spotlight on the violence women and girls still face but we need to talk about such abuse all year round.

“We need to look at the root cause of such abuse and have a collective approach to tackle the devastating crimes that happen to women and this includes working with perpetrators to stop such offending. 

“We all have a responsibility to prevent and stop violence against individuals who are mums, sisters, daughters, grandmothers and friends. I know the police, services, businesses and I will continue to shout about the support available, and I urge local people to have the courage and help us let victims know they are not alone.” 

Police are urging colleagues, neighbours and family members to report any suspicions that women, girls and children are at risk of harm or control.

Chair of Bristol Women’s Commission and Bristol Women’s Voice Penny Gane said their recent reports highlighted ongoing concerns about domestic abuse in Bristol, made worse for many by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said: “Stopping violence and abuse of women and girls should be at the top of everyone’s agenda in Bristol. Whilst it must remain our priority to support those women trapped in or escaping from abusive situations, we also need a whole culture change to end the tolerance in society that allows abuse and violence to persist.”

Next Link and Safe Link Service Manager Sarah O’Leary said for this year’s campaign – it was “more important than ever” that victims knew help was always available.

She said: “Although lockdown and social distancing is essential to address the COVID-19 virus, the risks to victims of domestic abuse has increased and women have found it harder to seek help while being trapped at home with their abuse. 

“No woman should have to live in fear or threat of violence and abuse, and we want all victims to know that they are not alone and can get help to be safe. If you are worried about a loved one, please see advice to ensure that no victim is left alone. Next Link offers free confidential advice.” 

For help, support and advice contact Next Link open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday on 0800 470 0280 or Safe Link open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday. Call 0333 323 1543.

Help is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the National Domestic Violence Helpline – Freephone 0808 2000 247.

For more information about the United Nation Elimination of Violence Against Women campaign visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day