Fawcett responds to women’s representation in Parliament inquiry

The Women and Equalities Select Committee are launching an inquiry to insure women are not disadvantaged as the political map of the UK is redrawn, from 650 constituencies to 600. The upcoming review of the boundaries will see MPs competing for seats that are being merged.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said:

“Fawcett welcomes the Women and Equalities Select Committee’s timely inquiry into women’s parliamentary representation, and will be submitting evidence to the Committee. We share the Committee’s concern that there is a real risk we could go backwards as a result of the Boundary Commission review.

Fawcett will be writing to all the party leaders inviting them, as a minimum, to commit to maintaining the current rate of progress on women’s representation in Parliament. In 2016 a 50:50 parliament should be a reality not an distant dream.”

Read the full story on the Guardian website here.


August 9, 2016

No faith in Undercover Policing Guidelines – Police Spies Out of Lives

Eight women who were affected by relationships with undercover officers, and who started Police Spies Out of Lives, have issued the following statement in response to the draft new guidelines for undercover policing [1] issued by the College of Policing. The guidelines are out for consultation until midnight August 10th 2016.

It is only through the actions of women such as ourselves, political activists, whistleblowers and journalists that abusive undercover relationships have been exposed, the police would have covered them up forever if they could get away with it – as witnessed by their continuing stance of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ in the face of all the evidence and despite the serious abuses committed.

  • We have no faith that the measures proposed by the College of Policing will stop further human rights abuses;
  • There are no circumstances in which the use of undercover intimate sexual relationships are justified;
  • The use of such relationship amounts to institutional sexism and serious sexual violation;
  • There is no excuse for abuse and that those who commit or sanction such abuse should be subject to prosecution;
  • The infiltration of political movements is an affront to any decent society and represents an interference with the right to freedom of expression and assembly; and that within this context undercover relationships have a particularly harmful affect on the ability of women to exercise these rights.

We will do our best to ensure that the Public Inquiry brings to light the true extent of the abuses committed by these political policing units and that action is taken to prevent the abuses from ever happening again.”

For further information please contact: media@policespiesoutoflives.org.uk


August 9, 2016

New child sexual abuse figures published – EVAW response

Responding to the publication of new crime figures which for the first time provide an estimate of the number of adults in England and Wales who experienced sexual and other abuse as children, the End Violence Against Women Coalition called on the Government to make the sustainable funding of specialist support services an urgent national priority.

Sarah Green, Co-Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:

“We have clear confirmation that more than 1 in 10 women are living with the impact of sexual abuse in childhood, but specialist support services set up to help them, including Rape Crisis Centres, are historically underfunded and are commonly financed on a year to year basis creating great insecurity.”

The new official statistics reveal that:

  • 11% of adult women have experienced sexual assault as a child, including 3% who have experienced serious sexual assault including rape.
  • The perpetrators of this abuse were most commonly either friends/acquaintances or family members.
  • The most serious sexual assaults are in a majority of cases experienced before the age of nine, and a quarter before the age of six.
  • The survey also reveals that the vast majority (three quarters) of survivors did not tell anyone else at the time they were abused for fear of not being believed or embarrassment and humiliation at the abuse.

The new figures – which the ONS are to be commended for commissioning – reveal that girls are almost four times as likely to be sexually abused as children than boys (around 11% compared to 3%), which matters when considering what kinds of specialist support services are needed.

Sarah Green, Co-Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:

“We commend the Government and ONS for this world first in obtaining a strong national prevalence figure for childhood sexual abuse. Women’s organisations, often set up by adult survivors of child sexual abuse to reach out to and support others, have long known this form of abuse is very common, but this has been a difficult fact for our society to come to terms with. The abuse of trust commonly involved in this form of abuse can do enormous damage.

“We must now look hard at this England and Wales prevalence and remember that these are real people, living their lives now, with the impact and legacy of abuse with them. We need to listen to survivors – as the independent child sexual abuse inquiry was set up to do – and ensure that a specialist support service, run by people who really understand the dynamics and impact of childhood sexual abuse, is available for every survivor whenever they might seek it. For women, who are the large majority of survivors, this means dedicated women’s services.

“We are calling on national government to look at its spending commitments in this area and at what it can do to step in and ensure that specialist sexual violence support services including Rape Crisis Centres are funded. National government should also make it clear to all local decision makers and funders – including local council, Police & Crime Commissioners and health service commissioners – that the needs of sexual abuse survivors are a national priority and should not be marginalized in commissioning processes as often happens at present.

“More broadly, as a society we should talk much more openly about the sexual abuse of children and ensure we are all creating a culture where people can speak up and seek support and be sure they will never, ever be blamed.

“And, if we are really serious about preventing abuse in the first place, and enabling children experiencing it today to have a chance of understanding and speaking up, we would make Sex and Relationships Education compulsory in every school, primary and secondary. And support this with better teacher training and safeguarding structures.”

The End Violence Against Women Coalition notes the work that has been done by the Government in recent years to joining up work on all forms of violence against women, and the Prime Minister’s personal commitment and pledges to the survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The Coalition hopes this new appreciation of the prevalence of sexual abuse of children and the numbers of adult survivors in our society will lead to policy and cultural change. We also hope that in addition to this survey there will be more work done to understand the impacts of sexual abuse on survivors’ lives and their needs, and on the perpetrators of abuse including who they are, how and why they abuse, and what can be done to disrupt their confidence in getting away with it.


August 9, 2016

18 August 2016 ~ 4th London Feminist Film Festival – full programmes and tickets – London – until 21 August 2016

The London Feminist Film Festival is returning to the Rio Cinema in Dalston (London) for its 4th edition from 18 to 21 August and we are pleased to announce that the full programme has been finalised and tickets are on sale NOW!

Recent years have seen increases in right wing conservatism, which have resulted in a surge in various forms of discrimination and bigotry. Because in 2016 many women across the globe are finding the rights they fought so hard for are under attack again, we have decided to open the 2016 edition of LFFF with a 25th anniversary screening of Pratibha Parmar’s A Place of RageThis award-winning documentary celebrates African American women and their achievements within the context of the civil rights, Black power, and feminist movements.

In light of the the current political and social climate we have programmed specific sessions addressing “THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE“, the experiences of “REFUGEE WOMEN“, as well as the representation and abuse of women’s bodies in patriarchal society in the session “WOMEN’S BODIES AS SITES …“.

The inspirational and upbeat feature length ‘pop-u-mentary’ Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model follows award-winning performance artist Bryony Kimmings and her 10-year-old niece Taylor as they try to combat the hyper-sexualised and commercialised world of pop by creating their own alternative popstar role model. We will be joined for the panel discussion by campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez as well as the filmmakers.

Other highlights include the EUROPEAN PREMIERE of the documentary feature No Kids for Me, Thanks! ,which gives a voice to childless women, and the delightful award-winning short One Thousand and One Teardrops which addresses women’s dress codes in Iran and is narrated by Shappi Khorsandi.

As a special bonus for feminist film lovers who are planning to spend the whole weekend with us, this year you can buy tickets for all six screenings for the price of five.

The 2016 London Feminist Film Festival will provide space to celebrate, organise, and inspire. Each screening will be followed by a post screening discussion, which we suggest you stick around for. Not only do these offer further insight into themes addressed in the films, but they are also a great space to speak to filmmakers about their experiences in the film industry.

You can view our full programme here. Buy your tickets from the Rio Cinema website here.


August 1, 2016

20 August 2016 10:30 ~ Cafe V – My Body Back – London

Until 12:00 @ Sh! Women’s Store
57 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB

Come and join us for Cafe V on Saturday 20th August.

This is a safe space for women who have experienced sexual violence to learn about sexual pleasure and reclaiming your body after assault. This hour-long session will explore problems with sex, where women anonymously submit their questions to us and we’ll answer them during the session. Depending on what we’re asked, this session could focus on all kinds of problems, like vaginismus, vulvadynia, dyspareunia or feeling out of control when you have sex following experiences of assault, and anything else you’d like us to discuss. We’ll also talk about finding the right contraception for you.

Café V is run especially for women who have experienced sexual violence. We will look at practical ways to connect with the body and physical relaxation techniques. Everybody is welcome and there will be plenty of cakes, teas and a supportive atmosphere. You can choose to listen and contribute as much or as little as you wish.

The workshop is free of charge and you can register through the website(*) or email us on info@mybodybackproject.com .

Cafe V will be presented by sexual wellbeing psychologist Amanda O’Donovan (Barts Health NHS Trust) and psychologist Raquel Correia from The Havens.

(*) Book online at http://www.mybodybackproject.com/events/cafe-v-5/

For other My Body Back events see http://www.mybodybackproject.com/events/

August 1, 2016