Update on UK Parliament's 'Upskirting' Bill

Anthea Sully, CEO White Ribbon UK

With the Brexit process taking up parliamentary time and attention, it would be possible to overlook that on the 15th of January the House of Lords will be debating the third reading of the Voyeurism Offences Bill. Aimed at making ‘upskirting’ a defined criminal offence in England and Wales, the Bill has had a bumpy ride in Westminster, including controversial blocking from some MPs.  Laws against the taking of images where consent had not been given, such as 'upskirt' pictures has been an offence in Scotland since 2010, and the issue had been raised for England and Wales over several years, including by some White Ribbon ambassadors. As we reported in June last year, it finally found its way into proposed legislation due to the positive online campaign led by Gina Martin (see video below), herself a victim of upskirting.

The Voyeurism Bill was blocked by MPs back in June 2018

The Voyeurism Bill was blocked by MPs back in June 2018

White Ribbon ambassadors will always challenge attitudes that would see behaviour such as upskirting as acceptable.  Having this clearly set out as a criminal offence shows the serious nature of these activities, and that there is absolutely no excuse to invade someone’s privacy in this way. We firmly believe that this legislation is long overdue and will make activities such as attending music festivals and travelling on public transport much safer for women.

Survivors of abuse speak out - 2: "To The Men In My Life"

Survivors of abuse speak out - 2: "To The Men In My Life"

Sixteen years ago, in 2002, I was the victim of a violent attack at the hands of my ex-husband. For the purposes of anonymity, let’s call him Tom. White Ribbon recently asked the journalists and bloggers on their supporter list to write about what the campaign means to them. For the first time, I find myself publicly sharing my story in the hope that it might inspire just one more person to speak up and save a life.

2 Weeks to Go - White Ribbon Day

The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is on 25th November. This is the first day of the 16 Days of Action, where our 1000-strong network of volunteers campaign against violence against women, working with communities in putting on events across the country.

White Ribbon UK works predominantly with men, asking them to stand up and take responsibility in ending violence against women, as it is still considered a ‘women’s issue’. By an overwhelming majority, most violence against women is perpetrated by men, and this can only be changed by ending the sexist cultures that give rise to abuse against women.

How can I help?

Firstly, it is important to make a public statement that you oppose violence against women by wearing a white ribbon and pledging never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women:

Only by fully understanding the oppressive balance of power in our society can men affect change. Sign up to become an ambassador, and complete our free e-learning course to gain a better understanding of how male violence against women is propagated by our society, and how to change things (particularly around White Ribbon Day). Once you have completed the training, specialist campaign resources are made available to you:

Organisations can gain White Ribbon Status by filling in an action plan to ensure policies are in place to safeguard women both in their workplace and client-side, including signposting, information, campaign literature and staff training:

If you are planning an event of some kind to mark White Ribbon Day, register it to ensure others know what campaign work is happening in their area:

Finally, below are some resources and links that are free to use during the campaign period:

White Ribbon Day 2018 - Social Media Toolkit

White Ribbon Day 2018 - Social Media Toolkit

Share the White Ribbon Day video: “If Love Hurts”

Share the White Ribbon Day video: “If Love Hurts”

Expect Respect Toolkit by Women’s Aid

Expect Respect Toolkit by Women’s Aid

Official Campaign Film for White Ribbon Day 2018: "If Love Hurts"

Official Campaign Film for White Ribbon Day 2018: "If Love Hurts"

If Love Hurts has been developed to mark White Ribbon Day. Director Peter Giblin says,

The film explores the emotional aspect of domestic abuse and how that abuse takes place within a context of love. It takes on average up to eight abuses before a victim will feel able to speak out.  Often, victims of domestic abuse love their abusers, as well as fear them. Frequently victims will not realise they are in an abusive relationship. This is why the message of the film says ‘If love hurts, it’s not love’.

White Ribbons available in the Welsh Senedd, Cardiff

People have been asking where to get white ribbons in Wales:

Following his election to the National Assembly for Wales, Jack Sargeant has been working hard to ensure his dad’s work and legacy is continued. Carl Sargeant was a keen advocate for victims, survivors and services that support people who have experienced domestic abuse. He spent much of his time working to improve services including initiating the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015.

Jack Sargeant AM with Welsh Assembly Llywydd, Elin Jones AM selling white ribbons at Welsh Senedd in Cardiff.

Jack Sargeant AM with Welsh Assembly Llywydd, Elin Jones AM selling white ribbons at Welsh Senedd in Cardiff.

To raise awareness of this issue, Jack recently wrote to the Assembly’s Presiding Officer. Following discussions on the matter, it has been agreed that the white ribbon will be sold in the Tŷ Hywel shop throughout November. It has also been agreed that the white ribbon will be sold in the Senedd shop during November.

Commenting on the announcement, Jack Sargeant said,

Domestic violence is the biggest killer of girls and women aged 16-44. I believe we should make the white ribbon readily available for the general public to make the pledge to never excuse, commit or remain silent about male violence against women.

I’m delighted that the Presiding Officer has agreed to sell the White Ribbon in the Senedd shop. It will give visitors the opportunity to learn more about this issue and buy a ribbon.

White ribbons will be available at the Senedd shop throughout the 16 Days Of Action this year and on our online shop all year round.

Specialist Campaign Resources Now Available

White Ribbon Day and the 16 Days of Action are 2 months away, and to help you prepare for this we have created specialist resources for your campaign work.

These are only accessible to White Ribbon UK Ambassadors and Champions who have undertaken the campaign training syllabus. Help us to end male violence against women by completing the brief e-learning course as a volunteer ambassador or champion for White Ribbon UK, and gain access to the specialist campaign resources:

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Further to this, additional event kits are available on our shop, including hand-print kits for the Hands Are Not For Hurting event.

Please submit any public campaign events on our events page so we can help make your invaluable campaign work a success.

Our 1000-strong nationwide network of volunteer ambassadors and champions are the reason we believe that we can end male violence against women once and for all.

Let's make 2018 the year for change.