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16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence, 25th November – 10th December 2020

Nov 23, 2020 | News

“As the world retreated inside houses due to the lockdown measures introduced to curb COVID-19 pandemic, reports from around the world showed an alarming increase in the already existing pandemic of violence against women.” (United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women)

The impact of coronavirus on domestic abuse has been a global emergency; let’s look at the figures.

  • In South Africa there were 87,000 reports of gender-based violence during the first week of lockdown alone
  • France has listed a 36% rise in domestic abuse cases since March
  • Brazil has registered a 40-50% increase
  • In Lebanon and Malaysia domestic violence crimes have doubled
  • In the USA 18 police forces have reported a huge spike in domestic grievances

The United Nations has pledged to end violence against women by 2030, with violence against women seen as the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide.

Each year it runs an international campaign – 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence – which runs from 25th November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10th December (Human Rights Day). With underlying themes of Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect, the strategy brings together individuals, organisations and institutions from around the world to work together to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

When put like that, this feels huge.

So let’s bring this closer to home – what do domestic violence figures look like in the UK?

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported 40,000 calls in the first 3 months of lockdown, with someone calling police for help every 30 seconds.

2/3 people claimed the abuse got worse during lockdown, and ¾ of people said lockdown made it more difficult to escape and seek help.

There was also a 64% rise in online searches for “domestic violence/abuse shelter” – that’s a neighbour, family member, friend or work colleague searching for options, searching for help and searching for a way out.

Making a difference worldwide begins at home.

We’re making change locally; over the next 16 days charities and organisations (Safe in Sussex, Healthwatch West Sussex, Streetlight UK, My Sister’s House and West Sussex County Council) across West Sussex are coming together to run a social media campaign highlighting our work, our stories, our concerns and our hopes for the future.

We need you to be a part of it.

When we talk of activism some people feel a pressure, almost like a call-to-arms. In a way, our 16 Days of Activism campaign is asking for that, but it’s not as daunting for an individual as it sounds, and it’s not hard for you to make a huge difference.

So what can you do?

  1. Listen – over the next 16 days local charities and organisations across Sussex will bring you facts, figures and stories about what we do, why we do it, how we do it and who it helps. Truly listening to what we have to say is so important. So please follow all the charities listed at the bottom of this blog across our social media channels and watch out for our posts.
  2. Learn – It’s no good hearing the facts but immediately forgetting them. What do the posts tell you about domestic violence in your area? How can you recognise signs of it? What impact do these facts make on you when you think of your own family and friendship circle? With ¼ women suffering from domestic abuse at some point in her life, learning about what help is out there is critical.
  3. Engage – ask us questions! We love them! Be curious, feed a fire to know more, like our posts, share our posts, talk about our posts with friends, family and loved ones – don’t let the facts pass you by.
  4. Become a changemaker – as well as supporting all or any of the organisations working on this campaign by liking our social media pages (listed below), signing up for newsletters and generally spreading the word, are there other ways you can help? Can you advocate us with your workplace? Could you become a monthly doner (or one-off!)? Can you volunteer for any of the charities in this campaign at shops or events in the future? Can you fundraise by doing something fun? Put simply, become a changemaker by inviting, exploring and seeking change in the community.

Safe in Sussex – Twitter & Facebook – @safeinsussex

Healthwatch West Sussex – Twitter & Instagram – @healthwatchws, Facebook – @healthwatchwestsussex

Streetlight UK – Twitter – @StreetLight_UK, Facebook – @Streetlight.UK, Instagram – @streetlightuk

My Sister’s House – Twitter – @MySistersHouse4, Facebook – @mysistershouseuk

West Sussex County Council – Facebook – @WestSussexCC 

#16DaysofActivism, #NoExcuseforAbuse, #DomesticAbuseAwareness, #VAWGSussex

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Safe In Sussex receives 14% of its funding from the government. The rest is through grants, fundraising events, donations, legacies and corporate sponsorship.

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