Last week I went along to the Global Summit to ‘End Sexual
Violence in Conflict.’ Whilst there I attended a discussion around the importance of engaging boys and young men at an early stage,
the discussion focused on teaching them that violence against women and girls is simply not acceptable.
Whilst the Summit’s talks centred around violence in conflicting countries, I wanted to know if we were doing something similar in the UK to educate young males. So, having looked around the net,
I have to say, I could only find a scarce amount of resources or information on this work.
It seems pretty obvious that until there is no more gender based violence we will not have true equality; changing the mind-set of boys and young men is key to eradicating this.
We need to start by asking what we can do. I would suggest there is a real need for establishing community and curriculum programmes that tackle these issues head on.
We have to have a line that tells us women should be treated equally, and if not, to know there is someone to step in and enforce equality.
This year saw the launch of This is ABUSE – a website aimed at young people to help them rethink their views on consent, controlling behaviour, abuse and gender based violence.
This online resource goes someway to showing a younger generation that these practices must stop, it not only tells boys it’s not acceptable but sends a message to girls too.
UK Feminista, an organisation campaigning for gender equality, have recently started an admirable campaign – petitioning schools to tackle sexism. They also campaign for social, political and economical equality.
Websites and resources such as these needs to be common practice and these issues should regularly be discussed in classrooms, openly debated and challenged. It’s clear that violence against women is wrong – with 77% of young men agreeing that having sex with someone who has said no is rape *.
Girls are often subjected to sexism from a young age and learn to deal with it as if it’s the norm – let’s change this for future generations. Only when we all stand together and say enough is enough, that men and women are equal, will we really be able to stand up for ourselves and to stop being frightened of being attacked simpy because we are women.
We need to work towards changing attitudes and educating young men and young women – only then can we seriously begin to stop the ingrained every day sexism and gender based violence.
* Opinion Matters (2010) ‘Where Is Your Line?’ Survey Summary Report.The Havens – Sexual Assault Referral Centres. Available at http://www.thehavens.co.uk/docs/where_is_the_line.pdf
Project Development Manager
(Top blog image © L Whittaker)