The launch of a campaign this week sees the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and South Yorkshire Police stand shoulder to shoulder with women across South Yorkshire and nationwide as we say ‘No More’ to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
As part of a bold new campaign, South Yorkshire women have united in a rallying cry to everyone across the UK – to stand with us as allies and create spaces where women feel safe.
The ‘No More’ campaign is centred around the microaggressions and acts of violence that women face every day, with a particular focus on those most prevalent in the night-time economy. Powerful statements lay bare the unacceptable situations too many women and girls experience on a night out:
“I said we could dance, not dry hump.”
“No more pressing against me at the bar.”
“I didn’t ask how my boobs look.”
“No more d**k pics.”
Now we ask both women and men to join the fightback, urging bystanders in these situations to become upstanders who call out violence, harassment, intimidation, humiliation or misogyny for what it is.
The campaign is funded by the Office of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner through a bid to the Safer Streets Fund and is delivered by South Yorkshire Police. It has been developed with input from the force’s Independent Advisory Group for VAWG, made up of those who have lived experience of VAWG, or who work in organisations that support women and girls who have experienced this type of violence.
In addition, the campaign’s video and imagery star real women from our communities here in South Yorkshire.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: “In order to address the issue of violence against women and girls it is important that we do something about those attitudes that minimise abuse and those behaviours that have often been made to seem normal.
“We want women to feel safe in our communities. We have heard time and time again about behaviours that make women feel uncomfortable, yet they are expected to put up with them. We want to see this changed. We want to raise awareness and encourage those who witness inappropriate behaviour and hear inappropriate comments to call them out and report them, and to be willing to stand up for and support victims.
“If left unchallenged, this type of behaviour can escalate, and in some cases lead to serious crime and violence against women and girls. Women are harassed and abused every day, and we need to stop it.
“Preventing violence is always better than solely responding after the harm has been done. We need to see more investment in prevention so that as a society, we can continue to have these difficult but necessary conversations and build a different future without violence against women and girls.”
South Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Poolman said: “This call to action against VAWG comes not a moment too soon. No More has been created with our communities, for our communities, and we stand with them – both women and men – against a vile culture which cannot and should not be tolerated.
“The filming and photography for the campaign took place at locations across South Yorkshire earlier this year. I was disgusted to hear that even while they were being filmed and photographed for this cause, a number of the women involved were heckled and one was even grabbed by men who thought it was funny. This demonstrates exactly why change is needed and why we need to do more to create spaces where women feel safe.
“I’d also like to be clear that it’s a minority of men who are the problem – but we do need all men to be part of the solution. If you see your mate harassing a woman on your night out – call it out. Be the kind of man your mum or your sister would be proud of.
“I’m really pleased South Yorkshire Police is playing its part in this vital work. I’d also like to reassure women that if they are a victim of a crime, we will listen. You will be taken seriously, we will do everything we can to support you and we will take appropriate action.”
Becca Butcher, one of the volunteers who was photographed for the campaign, said: “Having personally suffered unwanted harassment in the past, I took part in this campaign to help other women who have suffered too, to see that they aren’t alone. I hope that by sharing our stories and raising awareness we can show other women that they don’t have to tolerate unwanted harassment in silence, they are seen/heard and their feelings are valid.
“Many people believe that being harassed by strange men in the street is unavoidable and it is to be expected as a woman, but it shouldn’t have to be. Men who shout at women in the street must know that what they’re doing is scary for the woman involved, why else would they do it? They already know that they won’t get a positive response, do they ever? So, if this campaign prevents even one man from continuing their harassment against women then it was absolutely worth it. No woman should have to live in fear every time they step outside.”
View the campaign video and find out more on the No More website at www.nomore-standwithus.com