Stylist's open letter to Priti Patel about violence against women

“We’re calling on you to act now”: read Stylist’s open letter to Priti Patel about ending male violence against women and girls

Posted by for Women

More than 60 experts, activists, politicians and public figures have signed Stylist’s open letter to the Home Secretary as part of our new campaign, A Fearless Future. Read the letter and see the full list of signatories below.

Dear Home Secretary,

We are in the grip of an epidemic of male violence against women and girls. Every three days, a woman in the UK is killed by a man. 97% of young women have been sexually harassed, and nearly one in four women have experienced some form of sexual violence. These figures are horrifying – behind each one is a story of personal pain, fear and shame – and they’re only the tip of the iceberg, as many women who experience harassment, stalking, rape and violence never report it. Stylist says: enough.

We know you’re aware of the scale of the problem, and are currently overseeing the development of a new government strategy for tackling violence against women and girls. But experts agree that we can’t police or legislate our way out of this crisis.

If we truly want to end male violence against women and girls, we need to change the male attitudes and behaviours that allow it to happen in the first place. That’s why Stylist and our supporters are demanding an ambitious action plan from the government to keep women safe and challenge the wider cultural attitudes that cause and tolerate abuse.

We’re calling on the UK government to fund an ongoing, high-profile, expert-informed awareness campaign on men’s violence against women and girls, highlighting and challenging all forms of abuse – from sexual assault to street harassment, stalking and domestic violence.

Transforming the social norms that underpin male violence against women won’t happen overnight. But the good news is, attitudes and behaviours can change. Previous government-funded public awareness campaigns made us wise up to drink driving, smoking and more recently, Covid-19. Prevention is better than cure – so let’s treat male violence against women like the public health crisis it is.

remembrance vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common
The remembrance vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common

We’re not the only ones to recognise the power of government campaigns to shift beliefs and behaviours. The Istanbul Convention – a landmark human rights treaty against violence against women and girls, which the UK has yet to ratify – requires countries to regularly promote campaigns to boost public understanding of gender-based abuse. 

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has recommended the UK launch public campaigns on all forms of violence against women, including a focus on the specific dangers and barriers to support faced by Black and minoritised women. 

In 2018, the Women & Equalities Committee called on the government to develop a long-term programme of public campaigns to tackle the attitudes behind sexual harassment. 

Yet so far, the government has failed to act.

Ultimately, we want to live in a world where no one is afraid of gender-based abuse – be they cis, trans or non-binary; old or young; disabled or non-disabled; a UK citizen or a migrant woman.

We want to prevent future generations of women from experiencing the fear and harm that are now so widespread. We want our television screens, Instagram feeds and the billboards that line our streets to be flooded with the message that A New Normal of respect and safety for women is possible.

We cannot allow the next generation of girls to grow up in a climate of fear. We refuse to let that happen and we’re calling on you to act now.

Melanie Brown
Melanie Brown, Spice Girl and Women’s Aid patron

Signed,

Lisa Smosarski, editor-in-chief, Stylist

Nazir Afzal OBE, former chief prosecutor and national advisor on gender-based violence to the Welsh government

Baljit Banga, executive director, Imkaan

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader, Green Party of England and Wales

Munroe Bergdorf, social activist and model

Siân Berry, co-leader, Green Party of England and Wales

Melanie Brown, Spice Girl and Women’s Aid patron

Dr Stephen Burrell, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse, Durham University

Jayne Butler, CEO, Rape Crisis England & Wales

Priya Chopra, chief executive, Saheli Asian Women’s Project

Jenna Coleman, actor

Daisy Cooper MP

Laura Jackson
Broadcaster and writer Laura Jackson

Marsha de Cordova MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

Scarlett Curtis, writer and campaigner 

Ed Davey MP

Ruth Davison, CEO, Refuge

Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal, senior lecturer, London Metropolitan University

Lizzy Dening, journalist and founder, Survivor Stories

Professor Catherine Donovan, head of sociology department, Durham University

Deborah Frances-White, comedian and podcaster

Jacqui Fray, project manager, Amadudu Women’s Refuge

Dr Geetanjali Gangoli, associate professor of sociology, Durham University

Professor Aisha K Gill CBE, professor of criminology, University of Roehampton

Dan Guinness, managing director, Beyond Equality

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Charli Howard, writer and model

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu
Lawyer and activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu

Umme Imam, executive director, The Angelou Centre

Laura Jackson, broadcaster and writer

Jameela Jamil, founder of I Weigh

Christine Jardine MP

Huda Jawad, Faith & VAWG Coalition

Dr Kelly Johnson, assistant professor of criminology, Durham University

Dr Ava Kanyeredzi, senior lecturer in psychology, University of East London and Black Church Domestic Abuse Forum

Sara Kirkpatrick, chief executive, Welsh Women’s Aid

Amy Lamé, London’s night czar

Marai Larasi, advocate, community organiser and consultant

Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime

Caroline Lucas MP

Caroline Nokes
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee

Professor Jane Monckton-Smith, professor of public protection at University of Gloucestershire

Baroness Nicky Morgan

Dr Helen Mott, specialist adviser and consultant in the prevention of sexual harassment and violence

Abi Shapiro, interim chief executive, Young Women’s Trust

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer, political and women’s rights activist

Farah Nazeer, CEO, Women’s Aid

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee

Kajal Odedra, activist

Sara Olney MP

Pragna Patel, director, Southall Black Sisters

Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding

Jessica Raine, actor

Labour MP Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities
Labour MP Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

Mandu Reid, leader, Women’s Equality Party

Laura Richards, founder, Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service

Sawsan Salim, director, Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation

Purna Sen, visiting professor, Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University and formerly executive co-ordinator on addressing sexual harassment, UN Women

Janey Starling and Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Level Up

Anthea Sully, chief executive, White Ribbon

Julie Walters
Actor and Women’s Aid patron Julie Walters

Zarah Sultana MP

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Shadow Home Secretary

Maya and Gemma Tutton, founders, Our Streets Now

Deniz Uğur, deputy director, End Violence Against Women coalition

Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, assistant professor of sociology at Durham University

Gurpreet Virdee, co-director at Women and Girls Network/West London Rape Crisis Centre

Julie Walters, actor and Women’s Aid patron

Claire Waxman, London’s independent victims’ commissioner

Professor Nicole Westmarland, director of the Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse

Nadia Whittome MP

Felicia Willow, CEO, Fawcett Society

Munira Wilson MP

Harriet Wistrich, founder and director, Centre for Women’s Justice

Images: Getty

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