In My View: Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell & Peckham

Saturday, November 25 was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and it was White Ribbon Day, which marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which ran until International Human Rights day on December 10.

The news this week that Emma Pattison, the Epsom College headteacher, and her seven -year-old daughter Lettie, who were tragically killed by Emma’s husband were preparing to leave him is sadly an all too familiar story.

I was struck by the chilling words of Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust, when paying tribute to Emma, she said “It doesn’t matter how successful or accomplished or brilliant you are as a woman. You are only as safe as your male partner allows you to be”.

In every room and every engagement where domestic violence is discussed, there will be women there who have themselves experienced coercive control or male violence.

When we talk about violence against women and girls, we are not talking about ‘other people’, we are talking about our friends, colleagues, and it can happen to women at any time of their life.

It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, it doesn’t matter what age you are, and it affects women of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

And too many women and girls here in Southwark live in fear, with Southwark being ranked the 15th highest borough in terms of domestic abuse offences in 2021/22.

This is why it is right that we reflect on men’s responsibility in tackling male violence against women and girls.

It shouldn’t be solely down to us women to take the responsibility when it is men who are the perpetrators of this violence.

We need male political and cultural leadership to take this forward and for men to take responsibility.

Not to shut women out of the discussion, but for men to do some of the heavy lifting to bring about change and to share the obligation to end male violence against women and girls.

I commend Leader of Southwark council, Kieron Williams, for the initiatives the council have taken to raise awareness among young boys on how to respect women and not resort to violence.

We’ve made a great deal of progress. Now everyone agrees that domestic violence is wrong.

But only Labour will take the action required to ensure women’s safety and end male violence.

Under the Tories, too little has been done to tackle the root causes of violence against women and girls with recent figures showing that 1.6 million women aged 16 to 74 years in England and Wales suffered domestic abuse and more than 600,000 women have been sexually assaulted.

As we look ahead to the general election, Labour will commit to using all the levers of Government to deliver on its mission to halve the level of violence against women and girls in a decade.

We will put specialists into the court system and the policing system and will tackle misogyny as the root cause of violence against women and girls online and in schools.

But we need our male allies to work with us to deliver effective and permanent change.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.