Podcast – From the North – Women’s safety – are we any further forward?

Listen to the podcast here – https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2021-12-13/from-the-north-theres-power-behind-our-voices-now-on-womens-safety

From the North‘ is a digital series from ITV News made in the North of England, focusing on the topics and issues people are talking about in our region.

In each episode we look at a single issue, here we are looking again at women’s safety and asking what more needs to be done?

This was a subject we discussed in March 2021 after the death of Sarah Everard in London to see whether that was a watershed moment for our towns and cities in the North.

Since then a Home Office report revealed ‘there’s an epidemic of violence against women’  – and women haven’t felt safe for a very long time.

Daisy Whitehouse is part of ‘Right to Walk Manchester’ which was set up after the death of Sarah Everard and she says too often the narrative puts the emphasis on women, to protect themselves.

The conversation is louder and that’s positive. We’ve got power behind our voices now. There’s clearly a lot wrong when women still walk down the street with keys in our hands and women’s drinks are being spiked. Society isn’t changing, there’s clearly still a lot wrong.Daisy Whitehouse, Right to Walk Manchester

Serena Jemmett, a student at the University of Manchester says ‘violence against women is ingrained in culture from day one on how boys grow up, boys will be boys, they will hit and chase you, if they like you’.

She helped organise a boycott of pubs and clubs in Manchester, the #GirlsNightIn protest, which took place in Liverpool and Manchester in October 2021 after a sharp rise in the number of people spiked on nights out.

She said it is ‘just ridiculous’ women have to boycott pubs just to feel safe and a single night of boycotting is not enough to see change, ‘it is just one night’.

Serena set up a campaign called ‘Resist Rape Culture’ which aims to tackle sexual violence and rape culture on the University of Manchester campus.

She conducted a survey of students on campus and said 53% of those who took part said they didn’t feel safe in their university halls and university campus.

She’s campaigning for compulsory consent classes at university before students get access to their timetables.

In a statement, Bev Hughes, the Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Nobody should be made to feel threatened, unsafe or intimidated and Greater Manchester Police works hard to keep people safe.”

A hard-hitting campaign was being developed to challenge behaviours and attitudes and prevent sexual violence and harassment.Bev Hughes

Daisy says workplace abuse for women is a huge issue and we need to look at changing culture at a much earlier age.

She says ‘my generation was terrible, it is too easy to blame the victim’ as opposed to taking action to tackle attitudes towards women.

Right to Walk Manchester are taking part in a round table event with Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham in January 2022 to discuss a plan of action.

He’s set up an Anti Spiking Partnership and has already said there needs to be a change in male behaviour. The partnerships will roll out anti spiking tests in major venues.

But Serena says tests and covers on people’s drinks, still doesn’t address the issue; why do some people think it’s ok to spike someone’s drink, which is about control.

Trevor Fairhurst has campaigned tirelessly to protect women after his 19 year old daughter Carly was killed by a violent partner in 2006.

Lancashire police are asking women and girls about their experience, to help shape the government’s strategy to tackle violence towards women and girls.

His daughter’s killer Darren Pilkington has broken his parole 5 times and has now been moved to an open prison.

Trevor says he knows someone who at university during fresher’s week overheard a conversation of fellow students who said ‘ let’s go out and rape a girl’ and said it was ‘horrifying’.

He says the issue isn’t high enough on the political agenda and people have to call out this behaviour and report it.

Trevor and his wife Sheila run sessions with police, GP’s and in schools urging people to speak out as well as training others on how to spot the signs of abusive behaviour towards women.

He says if anything, the issue is getting worse and we will have women too frightened to go out at all. That’s something no one wants to see.

Listen to the podcast here – https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2021-12-13/from-the-north-theres-power-behind-our-voices-now-on-womens-safety