Standing in solidarity with women affected by violence - Statement from Councillors and Mayor

Following the horrific murder of Sarah Everard and the calls for change in tackling male violence, Deputy Mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, and Cllr Sade Etti, Mayoral Adviser for Housing Needs, Rough Sleeping and Homelessness, said:

“The tragic murder of Sarah Everard has shocked our nation and further highlighted the exhausting and frightening reality of being a woman in a public space. Tonight, parts of the Town Hall will be lit up in orange in solidarity with Sarah and all women and girls who have been affected by male violence, to reinforce our commitment to fighting for our fundamental right to live our lives free from fear, harassment and assault. 

“To create a safer world for women, we need to work as a society to ensure that it is men’s behaviour that changes, not ours. For far too long, conversations and debates around male violence have consistently centred on women’s behaviour. We’ve been told to stay inside after dark, be mindful of how we dress, stick to well-lit routes and take our headphones out, to name a few. These comments fail to address the actual issue at hand: violence against women is not caused by the night sky, headphones or outfits - it is mainly caused by men. 

“Not all men are violent, but all women feel the fear, hurt and frustration that comes with living in a world where violence against women and girls is treated as an inevitable part of being a woman, rather than a product of a society that treats male violence as an issue for women to solve. All men can do more to be allies, to reach out to the women in their lives and ask how they can help, to be active bystanders and to challenge sexism and misogyny wherever it occurs. 

“The everyday harassment that women face has been in the spotlight over the past two weeks, with woman unfortunately sharing their lived experiences of male violence, sexual harassment and mysogyny on social media channels, blogs, radio and TV. These lived experiences must be at the core of conversations about male violence against women and strategies to tackle it. However, it’s vitally important that we recognise that male violence and abuse is a complex issue which affects every woman differently, and is unfortunately often be accompanied by other forms of discrimination, harassment and hate crime. That’s why we can only rebuild a society that’s safe and equal for all women by addressing the systemic inequalities in our country and ensuring that Black women, Muslim women, trans women, disabled women and queer women are represented in the media and in leadership positions. 

“As a Council, we’re committed to ensuring that our leadership and workforce is representative of our borough’s diversity through recruiting Inclusion Champions to promote our shared values of inclusivity, diversity and equality and to provide unconscious bias training to managers, and to ensure that our management strategies are based on the individual needs of our staff. 

“We’ve also committed to changing the narrative around sexual harassment and putting the onus back on our harassers. Our #ReframeTheNight campaign, which was developed by and launched in partnership with Good Night Out who work to tackle sexual harassment in night time spaces, challenged the damaging culture of victim blaming and put the blame back on our harassers and attackers. As part of this campaign, our late night venues received free training from Good Night Out to help them identify, address and prevent sexual harassment and assault on their premises. This campaign is needed now more than ever.

“We owe it to Sarah, her family, friends and loved ones, and to every single woman affected by violence and harassment, to ensure that the conversations, actions and calls for change that we’ve seen over the past week have not been in vain, and lead to the long overdue change that we need to see. 

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville added: “There’s a reason why the tragic murder of Sarah Everard has shaken women across the country. And men, leaders and particularly men who are leaders, have to finally hear what women are saying. 

“I have had so many conversations with women in the past few days about their experiences of harassment, aggression and violence and the failure of it to be acknowledged, investigated and action taken. This is simply not good enough and we must join the fight for structural change that ensures every single woman is safe in our public spaces, in their homes, online and in our wider society. 

“Violence against women and girls is still far too common, and tackling it starts with ensuring that male violence rightly falls on us as men to take ownership and solve. We need to ensure that society stops treating male violence against women as inevitable, rather than the result of a system that tells us to protect our daughters rather than educate our sons and risks offering more protection to property or statues than it does to women.

“Sarah Everard and women like her, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry deserved safety, their murders have caused immense pain, nothing can repair that damage, but we can remember them and must ensure this time we see real change. By committing to being allies, ensuring that women’s voices and experiences are at the heart of policies to tackle male violence, and challenging sexism and misogyny wherever it occurs, we can rebuild a safer and fairer world for all women.”

If you, or someone that you know, has been affected by sexual harassment or abuse there is support available in Hackney or an area convenient for you:

  • if an incident has occurred, you can call 999 or 101 to speak to the police. 
  • you can also contact Victim Support, who offer free, confidential advice for those who have been affected by sexual harassment – you can call their free helpline on 0808 1689 111.

Free, downloadable resources that tackle myths and attitudes about night time sexual harassment are available for everyone’s use.