A group of politicians, charity leaders, survivors and frontline workers came together in Liverpool last week to hold a vigil marking the start of the 16 Days of Activism.
The focus was to unite the community in memory of the local women and girls who had lost their lives to male violence and to focus on plans to eradicate violence on the streets and in homes in Liverpool and beyond.
The event was organised by local charities Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service, Amadudu and RASA (Rape and Sexual Abuse Service) in response to the growing epidemic of Violence Against Women and Girls across Merseyside and beyond.
The Chief Executive of Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service Paula Nolan said: “The number of women and girls being murdered by male violence each year in the UK is staggering. This vigil is to remember all those women and girls whose lives have been needlessly lost…they are seen, they are remembered, and they are honoured.”.
Since 2015-16, there’s been a huge increase of recording of domestic abuse offences in Merseyside by 128%, but we know that this is still grossly under-reported.
RASA Operations Manager Lorraine Wood stated: “Statistics show 1 in 4 women experience rape and sexual abuse in their lifetime. Violence against women and girls is not acceptable. Together we can and must end violence against women and girls.“
Amadudu Project Manager Jacqui Fray said: “Women from a minority background, particularly from a migrant community, are disproportionately impacted by Domestic Abuse. At Amadudu, we are seeing an increase in the number of women reporting threats of “honour-based” violence.”
Women leaders from across Merseyside spoke at the event and highlighted their local strategies and policies being delivered and developed ensure women and girls can be safe in their homes and within their communities.
Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell highlighted the launch of the Violence against Women and Girls Delivery Plan. The strategy, which has been agreed by all political leaders and has been contributed to by nearly 50 partners across the region, sets out a series of straight-forward and achievable actions which all agencies can deliver to help eradicate VAWG.
Each of the actions will be driven forward by a dedicated group who will be responsible for ensuring progress and achieving key milestones, overseen, and reviewed by the Police’s Commissioner oversight board, the Merseyside Strategic Policing and Partnerships Board (MSPPB).
“We know women and girls experience violence in our communities every day. It is culturally embedded – deep-rooted in a society that was designed for men, and which enables misogynistic attitudes and sexism to fester,” Ms Spurrell said.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, my priority is to create a safe region for everyone – that means for all women and girls,” she added.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson said she will launch Liverpool Council’s first Violence Against Women and Girls strategy in January 2023.
Paula Barker MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Homelessness and Rough Sleeping spoke at the event: ‘I am particularly aggrieved that with violence against women and girls, too little progress has been made. It’s like we are stuck in a permanent time loop where we take one step forward and two back.” She added that it was time for urgent change.
Maggie O’Carroll, CEO from The Women’s Organisation, made a call for more funding to be made available to tackle the problem. “We need funding to ensure that we have the services available to support everybody that needs support. Enough is enough. We need to eliminate violence against women and girls, and we need to do it now.”
The vigil ended with the Chief Executive of Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service Paula Nolan naming the 38 women, including 3 children who since 2015 were killed in circumstances where a man or men are the principal suspect. (Statistics from the Femicide Census)
“They are seen. They are remembered. They will forever be honoured.”