Image courtesy of Dan Kitwood at Getty Images

23 ways to stop violence against women

As winter draws in, women have never felt more threatened on Britain’s streets. THE FACE asks organisations, observers, campaigners and readers what changes need to happen now.

Taken from the new print issue of THE FACE. Get your copy here.

Women’s relationship with the night has often been a tug-of-war between occupying a space we have every right to and the anxiety of finding ourselves on the wrong street corner at the wrong time. Nothing brought this into sharper focus than the murder of Sarah Everard by police officer Wayne Couzens in March 2021.

Since then, at least 81 women in the UK have been killed in incidents where the suspect is a man. Statistically speaking, gender-based crime is more likely to happen at home, perpetrated by a partner or someone close to the victim. But as the wintry darkness sets in, many of us have clutched our keys even tighter and found different paths to take home, saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding ourselves on the street against strangers.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, around 50 per cent of crime happens in the dark. As of August 2021, the same number of women reportedly don’t feel safe walking alone after nightfall. In London, where the night tube service has been curtailed due to the pandemic, demand for Ubers has soared in recent months, leaving many people stranded after-hours. A petition to reinstate the underground service garnered more than 155,000 signatures in October, which pushed mayor Sadiq Khan to announce that the late-night Victoria and Central lines would reopen in November. But that’s only two lines in one city and the plans have been derailed by TfL worker’s strikes. With more strike action planned throughout December, it’s currently unclear when the night tube services will return.

Following Everard’s death, police, with whom distrust is arguably at an all-time high, once again urged women not to go out alone. Living our lives confined to the four walls of our homes (especially after a pandemic), potentially doomed to a lifetime of being chaperoned, is not a practical – nor, frankly, acceptable – solution to this tide of repetitive violence. Every few years, a murder is committed that makes national headlines. The discourse then renews itself without much progress, and the onus remains on women to look after ourselves or be looked after by a man.

Everything was stolen from Sarah Everard, as it was stolen from Sabina Nessa, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and all the others whose lives were taken too soon at the hands of a man. But by looking to each other for protection and participating through direct, transformative action, we can claim back what we’re owed: our lives and the night.

More women actively involved in the design of urban spaces and city planning, so that public areas are designed with women’s needs in mind”

AMIKA GEORGE, PERIOD POVERTY CAMPAIGNER

Parties and venues should collect money for a taxi fund, so that BIPOC, trans, gender non-conforming people and people with disabilities can get home safely”

RÓISÍN TAPPONI, FOUNDER OF FILMMAKING COMMUNITY HABIBI COLLECTIVE

I think there needs to be a reset in how the male psyche has been indoctrinated to think it’s OK to objectify women and girls”

HAZEL GASKIN, PHOTOGRAPHER

If I’m going to be punished for being sexualised and taking ownership of my body on the street or online, there need to be consequences for the people who think they have a right to take advantage of that”

MICHAELA STARK, ARTIST

Transforming public spaces together, with everyone on board: the government, local authorities, emergency services, universities and workplaces, nightclub chains and educators”

UN WOMEN, AN ORGANISATION WORKING TO CREATE SAFE AND EMPOWERING PUBLIC SPACES WITH AND FOR WOMEN

Women’s safety would be improved if we could afford to move away when there’s danger at home, and if affordable housing was located close to workplaces so that long and potentially dangerous commutes could be reduced”

AMELIA HORGAN, AUTHOR OF LOST IN WORK: ESCAPING CAPITALISM

Violence against women needs to have a stricter punishment whatever the severity – there shouldn’t be a sliding scale on punishment – and young boys need to grow up in an environment where respect for women is fundamental”

HÉLÈNE SELAM KLEIH, MODEL AND MENTAL HEALTH ACTIVISM

Things will only start to change once huge decisions that impact the lives of women are made by women”

JYOTY SINGH, DJ, RINSE FM

More lights, maintenance and upkeep of walkways and alleyways; later licences and designated areas for people to wait in after closing times; and respecting people’s personal space”

NATTY KASAMBALA, WRITER

A stronger trust in women’s experiences, for them not to be taken lightly by authority or political figures, and more proactive education on consent, harassment and equality in schools”

ELSA ROUY, ARTIST

If educating young men to not instil fear into women on a daily basis is somehow too much’ for society to take on, then we need eyes following men’s every move so I can sleep at night knowing my sister is safe”

AMYMAY GEORGE, ARTIST

Widening knowledge about Clare’s Law: the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme encourages anyone with concerns about their current or ex-partner to use their right to ask’ to check whether they have a history of domestic abuse”

RACHEAL CROWTHER, ARTIST

Strengthening the collaboration between policymakers and women at grassroots level to encourage knowledge-sharing to inform policy actions”

ELLA WATSON, CAMPAIGNER FOR REINSTATING THE NIGHT TUBE IN LONDON

Volunteering in domestic violence shelters, on helplines: anything that actively helps people in real time”

STRUT SAFE, COMMUNITY ORGANISATION THAT HELPS WOMEN AND MARGINALISED PEOPLE GET HOME SAFELY

However impossible it may seem, we must work towards a vision of the future where no individual or structure disregards or questions a woman’s right to live and participate in this world”

OBJECT BLUE, DJ

We need to raise our children to be equal at the root of it all: no strong boys or pretty princesses, and stop sexualising girls at such a young age”

DEBA, MODEL

The harsh reality is that I can’t imagine one thing that would make me safer as a woman and I’m desperately trying not to lose hope”

ROXY LEE, PHOTOGRAPHER

Twenty-four-hour public transport should be extended across the UK. I would also advocate for free, basic self-defence classes for women to raise awareness and build self-confidence”

IMARN AYTON, ACTIVIST

The more opportunities there are for children and young people to consider, discuss and practice healthy, equal relationships, the more equipped they will be to reject stereotypes and choices which harm and devalue others”

TENDER, A CHARITY THAT PROVIDES PREVENTATIVE TRAINING AND WORKSHOPS ON ABUSE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES AND WORKPLACES

Defund the police in the immediate term. Instead, build communities of care, where the context for violence against people who face harm because of their gender is eliminated through social and economic justice for all”

LEAH COWAN, AUTHOR OF BORDER NATION

More resources to prevent violence against women from a young age, more coverage from mainstream media and to fix the Uber situation, [because] reinstating the night tube is a London-centric approach to an issue that affects us all”

ANITA CHHIBA, FOUNDER OF DIET PARATHA

I can’t help feeling that we need to stop framing the issue as a question of women’s safety’ and be brave enough to call it what it is: male violence. Because you can’t solve a problem if you’re afraid to name it”

PARIS LEES, AUTHOR OF WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL

Not giving more power to agents of the state to carry out institutionalised misogyny, misogynoir and genderbased violence; love, humanity and time to enact change. Saying that, my mother told me to always aim for the balls”

DUBHEASA LANIPEKUN, DIRECTOR

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