Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor calls for a fundamental shift in societal attitudes towards women and girls, as the city-region reaffirms its commitment to challenging gender inequality and abuse.
Bev Hughes was speaking during the global 16 Days of Action against issues such as domestic abuse, forced marriage and sexual violence – crimes that disproportionately affect women.
“We must break the underlying thread of cultural norms and attitudes towards women and girls if we are to make real headway in ending the scourge of abuse and violence in our society. We need to challenge the view that it’s somehow ‘ok’ to treat women and girls in a negative way,” says the Deputy Mayor.
“We will do that by strengthening our work with communities, with schools, with the third sector and standing together to say enough is enough.
“This is an issue that I – and the Mayor – are passionate about, and is why we are committed to developing a multi-agency strategy to reduce violence and abuse, particularly against women and girls.”
Greater Manchester has already made great strides in tackling these issues and specifically of domestic abuse and violence. For example:
- A Greater Manchester-wide initiative to help victims of domestic abuse and their families at an earlier stage to prevent reoffending and stop violence escalating. This has involved police, local authorities and other partner agencies working with the voluntary sector to develop a network of Victim Champions, bringing agencies together to signpost victims to relevant support services, share best practice and prevent repeat victims of domestic abuse.
- Commissioning of services to support victims of Female Genital Mutilation including a specialist medical screening service for women and children, and the launch of the Guardian Project, which coordinates care and support for young girls affected by or at risk of female genital mutilation.
- The rollout of Operation Encompass, which allows police to alert a child’s school if officers have attended a domestic abuse incident at their home. This enables schools to offer immediate support for children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.
- Funding of Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors who support victims and survivors of abuse.
“There is some excellent partnership work going on across Greater Manchester, but we have got further to go. We have to start by challenging those pervasive attitudes and behaviours that say it’s par for the course to ridicule, threaten or harass girls and women. It’s not ok.
“These kinds of actions – whether direct, online or on social media – are disrespectful and can intimidate. By standing together – men and women – to challenge these issues we can make sure women, and especially our young girls, can go about their day to day lives without fear or intimidation,” adds the Deputy Mayor.
“I’m also proud to say that the GMCA is White Ribbon accredited, and we have a number of ambassadors across the organisation – men empowering men to challenge inappropriate language, behaviour and abuse.”
The 16 Days of Action against gender violence began with White Ribbon Day on 25 November and ends on 10 December. There are a number of activities and awareness raising events happening across Greater Manchester.
Visit whiteribbon.org.uk or contact your local council to find out what’s happening in your area.