Last week, I was present at the launch of a report prepared by Plymouth Commission for Violence Against Women and Girls.
It is poignant that the document was published soon after the funeral of Bobbi-Anne McLeod, whose tragic murder in January led to the commission’s establishment. along with an horrific mass shooting by a man with questionable views about women.
The Commission, I believe the first in the country to be created, comprises specialists in domestic abuse, health improvement and child protection as well as key partners such as the police, the university, and city council among others.
Since March, members considered evidence from more than 1,300 local people and spent many hours listening to feedback from individuals and organisations and reading dozens of written submissions from those who work with victims.
They reviewed issues such as the role of men and boys, children and young people, places, spaces and culture, as well as innovation and best practice.
Now, the final report, entitled Male Violence Against Women and Girls, is published and the work begins to ensure that the recommendations are actioned across the city.
Sadly, this is the second time a city in Devon has needed to take much-needed action following the horrendous murder of a young woman by a man.
In March, Exeter University launched the city’s Safety of Women at Night (SWaN) charter. This came in the wake of the city’s response to the murder of Lorraine Cox in 2020.
The crimes that took Bobbi-Anne and Lorraine from their families, and a series of very high-profile cases where women have been the victims of shocking violence, have shone a light on society’s need to think about its response to violence against women and girls.
The report makes 15 key recommendations – supported by clear actions – to ensure that Plymouth drives a culture change that challenges male violence against women and girls, better supports women and girls who have been subjected to male violence and creates safe places and spaces for women and girls.
The report is a great starting point because, what we’re doing now isn’t working well enough and women still don’t feel safe on our streets, in our open spaces and often in our homes.
We all need to step up to the plate.
It is no longer enough to say ‘I’m not sexist.. but’, the time has come for us all to say we want men to hold their male friends and family to account for views that don’t belong here anymore.
Those who behave in this Stone Age manner must be called out and know that it will no longer be tolerated.
They must know we will not turn the other cheek, there will be no hiding place.
It is my job and the job of those in local authorities to better help those men who often are perpetuating a cycle of violence and abuse, who feel disenfranchised with society and all it can offer.
You can find more information about the Commission or to see the report findings and full recommendations at www.plymouth.gov.uk/newsroom/plymouthnews/violenceagainstwomenandgirls
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