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Community Safety

Concerted push to stop violence against women

Lambeth’s commitment to tackling Violence against Women and Girls will be highlighted with renewed efforts timed to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Sunday, November 25.

The United Nations designated day, which is also known as White Ribbon Day, is a day to campaign and raise awareness against gender based violence and to urge men and boys to never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

In Lambeth, staff from The Gaia Centre – the borough’s specialist service for victims of gender violence run by Refuge – will be talking to Lambeth College students about domestic violence, risks and support available. As well as highlighting services the Gaia offers, staff will work to challenge young men’s perceptions and behaviours that can result in violence against women.

Lambeth Council will also be re-launching its award winning zero tolerance campaigns aimed at those who commit violence against woman.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Public Protection, said: “Our work to tackle violence against women and girls is incredibly important. The abuse and exploitation of women in our community is incredibly damaging to victims, their families and the whole community. It must be stopped.

“Educating young people, and also the wider community, about the issue is crucial and International Day for the Elimination for Violence against Women is an opportunity to reach out to residents to let people know there is a network of help and support available to them and encouraging them to access it.”

The first re-launched campaign, called “The Know the Difference”, targets men and challenges behaviours, attitudes, and actions towards women around rape, sexual assault and harassment.

Hard-hitting posters and adverts with the campaign’s central message “Real Men Know the Difference – and so does the Law” will be displayed across Lambeth.

Know the Difference will target the night time economy, especially in busy night spots such as Clapham and Brixton, as a significant number of rapes and sexual assault reported in Lambeth have involved perpetrators who have briefly known their victim, for example they may have met at a club or bar during a night out.

The second campaign is Lambeth Council’s Thinking of Buying Sex, Think Again and is also part of the Safer Lambeth Partnership’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategy.

The campaign highlights the zero tolerance approach to those who come to Lambeth to purchase sex and highlights how no woman should be sexually exploited, abused, and demeaned, and women are often involved in prostitution because of their need to fund drug habits.

There is overwhelming evidence that the money which women make from prostitution goes straight into the hands of drug dealers in Lambeth. Women’s accounts of involvement in street prostitution are harrowing and involve a range of abusive behaviour by men.

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge, said: “The Gaia Centre is a groundbreaking service.  For the first time, all victims of gender violence can find life-saving and life-changing support under one roof.

“We have received 1194 referrals to the service since it opened in January.  The work we are doing with young people is particularly unique – because we cover all strands of violence be it domestic violence, stalking, forced marriage, trafficking or prostitution we are able to work with a broad range of partners in the borough and as such can reach out to a large number of young people.

“We are proud to be working with Lambeth Council on this innovative project and truly believe that it will help make the borough of Lambeth a safer place for men, women and children.”

To mark International Day for the Elimination for Violence against Women the council will distribute Violence against Women and Girls information packs to more than 50 organisations in the borough to raise awareness of the issues and the support available.

Lambeth Police’s acting Borough Commander Martin Huxley said: “Violence against women and girls takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools and the workplace. This violence prevents women and girls to live in dignity, violates their fundamental human rights and in many cases impedes them from achieving their full potential.

“We will continue to enforce the law and promote support services to victims for their protection and educate perpetrators of the consequences of their actions as this is vital to the success of the initiative.”

The latest action is being taken as part of Lambeth council’s Safer Communities campaign to highlight what we’re doing to make the borough a safer place. The campaign also shows how we are giving people in the borough more control over the council’s work with the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

People experiencing any form of gender based violence can get support from the Gaia Centre on 0207 733 8724, by emailing lambethvawg@refuge.org.uk, or visiting refuge.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/gaia-centre-lambeth.

For more information details about Lambeth Council’s VAWG approach visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/vawg.

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