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Charity says sexual violence campaign is too focused on women

Charity says sexual violence campaign is too focused on women

Tuesday 07 December 2021

Charity says sexual violence campaign is too focused on women


A local charity which supports men who suffer domestic abuse says a new Police campaign against sexual assault and violence focuses too heavily on women as the victims.

Although not specifically identified by the charity, the Police recently launched #showsomerespect to raise awareness of such crimes in the night-time economy. It followed the Girls Night In boycott of Town clubs and bars. These campaigns were partly inspired by the rape and murder earlier this year of Sarah Everard while she walked home from a night out in London.

Humankind Guernsey says it is "saddened at the recent ill thought out and counter productive efforts by Guernsey Police wasting taxpayers' money to fund campaigns based on complete falsehoods simply to kowtow to a vocal minority.

"One of our main challenges is to address the widely-held and yet entirely incorrect belief that abuse does not happen to men," said the charity. "For domestic abuse of any kind to be stopped, those pushing these false narratives need to be held accountable. 

"The police are seemingly unaware of the truth around domestic abuse and seem to think it only happens against women."

In a letter sent to the President of the Committee for Home Affairs, Deputy Rob Prow, and the Deputy Chief Officer of the Police, Ian Scholes, Humankind asks the Police to "stick to policing and base any campaigns around facts rather than emotions".

VIDEO: Alongside its #showsomerespect campaign, the Police released a video to promote its efforts to protect women from sexual assault and violence. 

The Committee for Home Affairs is strongly refuting the allegations against the Police campaign. 

Deputy Prow said: "Male victims in the islands will receive the same access to protection and legal redress within the criminal justice system, which will continue to seek justice for all victims of these crimes.

“Certain violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse disproportionately affect women and girls.

“This is widely evidenced both in terms of prevalence studies and criminal justice data across the western world, and this gender-based approach has been led by the United Nations, which has made repeated calls since the 1990s for the UK and other states to take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women."

Humankind claims the Police campaign implies that only women are the victims of drink spiking. It says the last drink spiking incident reported locally in 2015 involved four people who collapsed with severe symptoms and that three of them were men.

“We need the sexism to stop. We need the social stigma to stop," said Humankind.

Deputy Prow challenged the charity's claims about drink spiking.

“As per my recent Rule 14 answers in the States, of the six reports of drink spiking made this year [at that time] in Guernsey, all of the victims have been women," said Deputy Prow.

Deputy Rob Prow

Pictured: Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee for Home Affairs, said: “I know that officers in Guernsey Police will take a complaint regarding any one of these offences equally seriously, no matter the gender of the victim. That does not change the fact that women are far more often the victims and therefore we need to take strong and robust action to tackle the gender-based element of these crimes."

The Committee recently announced plans to accelerate the development of a sexual assault referral centre in the island. Deputy Prow said this was an example of support for victims of sexual assault regardless of their sex.

“Any services that are set up to tackle sexual assault in the Bailiwick, such as a sexual assault referral centre, will of course support all victims of any sex or age to ensure that timely and high-quality support is available to help victims cope with, and as far as possible recover from, the devastating impact of these crimes," said Deputy Prow.

"These services will need to understand the gendered experiences of these crimes and the specific issues and barriers that male victims face.

"I’m confident the majority of islanders, regardless of their gender, understand what we are trying to achieve with our campaign, which is seeking to raise awareness and change behaviours.”

VIDEO: Earlier this year, following the high-profile rape and murder of Sarah Everard while she walked home from a night out in London, an event was held in Market Square to raise awareness of sexual assault and violence against women and girls.

Humankind said the Police and the Committee needed "to stop taking such an uneducated and destructive stance on these matters" and speculated that "they are only doing it for the 'white knight' status it affords, puffing out their chests in pride at their stance of protecting women like superheroes".

"They are paid by the populous of the island and they should offer equal protection to those who pay their salaries instead of grandstanding," said the charity.

On its website, Humankind states that its mission is "to raise awareness and provide help to males in abusive relationships and survivors of domestic violence or that are experiencing parental alienation".

The full letter from Humankind is reproduced below.

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 Dear Sir/Madam,

Humankind is a Guernsey-based charity that aims to support men in abusive relationships.One of our main challenges is to address the widely-held, and yet entirely incorrect, belief that abuse does not happen to men. For domestic abuse of any kind to be stopped, those pushing these false narratives need to be held accountable.

We are saddened at the recent ill thought out and counter-productive efforts by the Guernsey Police wasting taxpayer money to fund campaigns based on complete falsehoods, simply to kowtow to a vocal minority. We politely request that the police stick to policing, and base any campaigns around facts rather than emotions. The police are seemingly unaware of the truth around domestic abuse, and seem to think it only happens against women. This is not only incorrect but, by literally advertising the implication - as if it is the official stance of the Guernsey Police - they are helping to perpetuate the social stigma that discourages men and boys from coming forward to seek help to get out of abusive relationships. This further skews the statistics that are no doubt being superficially interpreted to create false feedback. The majority of domestic abuse is reciprocal, and when it is made socially embarrassing for men to seek help to escape it creates a powder keg situation that, ultimately, results in avoidable domestic violence. By maintaining the social stigma the police are retaining these situations and increasing the likelihood of domestic violence.

The current campaign is based around drink-spiking and the implication is that women are the victims. However, the last drink spiking incident reported locally in 2015 involved four people who collapsed with severe symptoms. Three of those four people were male.

Another recent campaign came in March this year after the murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer. A vigil was held to “honour Sarah Everard and all women lost to violence” without a mention of the fact that in the UK 73% of homicide victims are male. Despite this, Deputy Prow pledged “to make the safety of women and girls in the Bailiwick a priority”. Presumably a priority relative to men and boys, despite the fact that in the UK men are also twice as likely to be victims of violent assault. Why they would need to prioritise resources based on the gender (or ethnicity,  religious leaning,  age, sexual preferences etc) of the victim,  rather than the seriousness of the crime,  is a mystery. 

We are volunteers with limited time to help individuals, and our task is made much more difficult by having to push back against widely held, but false, social narratives. We need the sexism to stop. We need the social stigma to stop. We need the Police and Home Affairs to stop taking such an uneducated and destructive stance on these matters. I am sure they are only doing it for the “White Knight” status it affords, puffing out their chests in pride at their stance of protecting women like superheroes. They are paid by the populous of the island and they should offer equal protection to those who pay their salaries instead of grandstanding.

Kind regards

For and on behalf of Humankind LBG

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