BLOG: The W̶o̶r̶m̶ Tide That Turned

16 March 2021
A sign tied to the gate of a park which reads "I want to feel safe in my streets".

We are living in a time where there is a precedent set already where populations are restricted, or ‘locked down’ in what they can do based on the poor behaviour of a few in order to disrupt the transmission of COVID from a public health perspective.  Surely, the systemic gender-based violence culture of our nation is also a public health issue. Given that all of the campaigns, new legislation and clampdowns have not yet eradicated this long-standing pandemic from our country, perhaps we need to define what that 'lockdown' might look like and it’s certainly not advising that women should be home by 11pm for their ‘own safety’.

Last week should have been different. Beginning with International Women’s Day and ending with Mothering Sunday, it should have been a time to celebrate and recognise the positive impact women have on our society and our everyday lives.  Instead, it was overshadowed firstly; by a woman being called a liar on national television for voicing concern about her fragile mental health whilst pregnant, and, secondly; by the horrific news of Sarah Everard’s abduction and brutal  murder in London whilst she was simply walking home.

We know that gender based violence is nothing new. It is an infectious disease like no other, but there has been no desperate search for the funding of its ‘vaccination’, despite its erosion of every bit of progress on the creation of civil society for generations.

In the 1980s The Two Ronnies launched a future-looking sketch, “The Worm That Turned”, which projected to 2012, when women ruled, and, for ‘comedy value’, described it as a “…great reign of terror…”.  The crass nature of this was missed on 5 year old me, and instead, I sneaked a glimpse of misguided hope in the rise of women whilst my loving family around me roared with laughter, unaware of yet another undermining and degrading broadcast related to the advancement of women. The greatest irony was that my parents were supporting me, at that time, through my first, and tragically not my last, experience of gender-based violence. They were blissfully unaware that their entertainment, along with that of the rest of the nation’s, was compounding and building the systemic nature of the problem that we live with today.

The events of the last few weeks demonstrate that the tide needs to turn and collective action needs to go further and run deeper, with more collaboration and speed of execution than anything that’s gone before.  Enough is enough.

Multicoloured ribbons tied to the gate of a park
Hundreds of ribbons and messages have been tied to the gates of Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow in memory of Sarah Everard, and in solidarity with the violence against women and girls campaign.

 

Impact Funding Partners (IFP) has been proud to support and build the capacity of organisations who contribute to the social justice priorities of our country and, in particular, the equality and human rights agenda, for almost 40 years.  We know that much work has been done and that there have been victories along that journey, but it is clear that those victories and legislative changes have not yet been woven into the fabric of our society.

To do this we need to get the private, public and third sectors involved in a serious and meaningful national conversation on how we can all work together to tackle men’s violence against women and girls, and ensure a united approach is taken across all areas of society. We also need to bring communities together to understand the role we can play – both individually and collectively – in ensuring violence is eradicated. Impact Funding Partners is poised for action in playing our part in supporting these discussions.

As most of what has been played out in recent times has been a gross misuse of power, where women survivors are too scared or ashamed of calling out abusive behaviour through fear of repercussion, then what does that say about where we are in the pursuit of creating a civil society?

Ultimately, we need to create a society where women can thrive and not just survive. This is about much more than money.  We must create psychological safety in every conceivable place women are, in particular; at home, at work and socially…  We must remove barriers, where they exist and applaud women for speaking out to challenge adverse experiences and changing our world for the better, but most crucially, we must not allow men to change the conversation, this time it’s here to stay until our work is done.

Tricia Imrie
Impact Funding Partners Chief Executive

 


Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline remains fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic. Call 24/7 on 0800 027 1234, or email and web chat from www.sdafmh.org.uk