Southampton marks White Ribbon Day to end men’s violence against women

White Ribbon Day (25 November) is the largest global initiative to end male violence against women, by putting men and boys at the heart of the movement to act.

To mark White Ribbon Day, Southampton City Council has organised an event in Guildhall Square between 10am and 4pm to raise awareness and encourage male behaviour and attitude change towards women. This will be aided by support from partner organisations and services including Yellow Door and Saints Foundation.

A creative display of paired women’s shoes will be displayed in Guildhall Square on White Ribbon Day. Each shoe represents a victim of domestic homicide - this definition includes murder by current or ex-partner, family member or cohabitee. But most domestic abuse is found to be between current or ex intimate partners, and most commonly domestic homicide is gendered (male perpetrators and/or female victims).*

Alongside the paired shoe display, artwork by local artists and students will be on display with an opportunity for men and women to make the ‘White Ribbon Promise' and write what they wish to change about the issue.

Cllr Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Heritage comments: “Domestic abuse is a national issue and sadly affects many people in Southampton. The coronavirus pandemic, and the associated lockdown periods, have further intensified the issue, meaning there has never been a greater need to provide safety and sanctuary for our most vulnerable residents.

"We have a real opportunity to get the message out there that violence against women and girls must end. Through education and prevention at an early age, all men and boys can make a difference, by thinking of their own behaviours and attitudes and being prepared to call out harmful behaviour when they see it.”

Southampton’s 2020/2021 safe city strategic assessment, currently being finalised, highlights that Domestic Abuse remains a substantial issue in Southampton and has again been highlighted as a priority area. Similar to the national trend, police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in Southampton increased over the last financial year. This is an issue that affects people from all walks of life, and cannot be ignored.

Southampton City Council received the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation in 2019, acknowledging the council’s commitment to supporting victims of abuse in the city. Measures put in place to ensure victims and perpetrators receive the most appropriate support include:

  • Arranging and paying for victims to travel to out-of-area refuges
  • Providing deposits to enable affected families to move into permanent homes
  • Delivering furniture where victims have had to flee their homes and leave possessions behind
  • Making phone calls to check in with victims to ensure they are safe
  • Reopening cases where COVID-19 restrictions have affected tenants’ welfare
  • Doing free home repairs when damage has been related to domestic abuse

Safer Streets Fund

Southampton is set to receive £192,545 as part of the latest round of the Government’s Safer Streets fund which was created to increase the safety of public spaces for all. Some crimes which take place in public places such as sexual harassment disproportionately affect women which is why this third round focuses on interventions to protect women and girls.

The funding will enable the delivery of interventions that target the root causes of violence against women and girls and emphasise changing attitudes and behaviours and challenging gender stereotypes. This includes education programmes in schools to combat unhealthy behaviours, and campaigns focused on student safety. The funding will also be used for physical interventions, such as CCTV and lighting as in previous rounds of the Safer Streets fund.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, said: “Violence against women and girls is not just something for the police to tackle, everyone has a part play. It shouldn’t be about females having to alter their behaviour to stay safe either. Putting in measures such as CCTV and better lighting is one way we can make our streets safer, but it is really a societal issue. Through awareness raising and education we can change men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls and empower people to call out and report inappropriate behaviour.

“Through initiatives such as those being funded under Safer Streets, White Ribbon Day and the work of my Task Group I want to ensure that everything that can done, is being done to tackle and prevent crimes of violence against women and girls.”

Awareness of violence against women and girls (VAWG) continues from 25 November to 10 December with 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. As part of the UN campaign, the clocktower will be lit orange on Thursday 25 November to advocate the national theme of ‘Orange The World’.

If you are experiencing abuse or are hurting someone you love, there is help available.

PIPPA: 023 8091 7917, will be able to provide you with initial guidance and support and signpost you as needed.

Please do not attend this event if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, have been asked to self-isolate, or have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to self-isolate in line with government guidance