Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Holding our politicians accountable

This week, Cheltenham Borough councillor Barbara Driver has stepped down after using the phrase: "(t)here is a saying and I'm going to say it: When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it" in reference to a new housing development. This misuse of language by politicians is not unusual. Victim blaming is. Eric Pickles allegedly told a survivor of child abuse to ‘adjust your medication’ during a disagreement. UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has made some very concerning comments about consent and children. William O’Rourke, a Labour councillor in Glasgow, was suspended from his party after suggesting a 9 year old rape victim was not "“typical innocent nine year old”. For a year, our campaign has been recording personal stories of victim blaming, as well as  responses to victim blaming in the media. We have read too many stories of politicians who do not understand the reality of domestic and sexual abuse and violence and yet these politicians get to decide how, or if, money is allocated to help victims.

We need to ensure that our elected representatives and policy makers understand how important training is to ensure universal good practise guidance for victims of sexual and domestic violence. This requires an understanding that the effects of domestic and sexual violence and abuse aren’t relegated to the criminal justice system, social services and healthcare - staff working in education, housing, immigration, and revenues and benefits all require basic training. It requires the knowledge that investment now will not only save lives but save money in the long-term.

These are the statistics on domestic and sexual abuse and violence:

We are calling on all our elected representatives, at local, county, and national levels to undergo training from specialist services on sexual and domestic abuse and violence. We are asking policy makers to approach their local or national sexual assault centres and third sector organisations which work in the field of violence against women and girls for training. We are asking them to undertake training so that they can:

We are asking our supporters to write, email or phone the men and women responsible for creating and voting on budgets that affect women's services to demand they undergo training. Every single elected representative and policy maker needs to understand the reality of domestic and sexual abuse and violence before we allow them to vote on policies and budgets that, increasingly, are resulting in cuts to services leaving victims without support, children in schools where staff aren't equipped to deal with the effects of domestic violence, and Serious Crime Reviews which say the same thing every time and yet more children and women continue to die at the hands of violent men. We all deserve better than this and our politicians must be held accountable for the effects of their votes on victims of sexual and domestic violence and abuse.

 

You can contact your MP, MSPs and MLAs via this site.

 

Form letter:

Dear X,

I am increasingly concerned about the number of politicians who are on record making inappropriate and offensive remarks about domestic and sexual violence and abuse. I worry about politicians who make the following types of statements being responsible for creating policies which effect victims of violence without understanding why their statements are harmful:

  • Cheltenham Borough councillor Barbara Driver has stepped down after using the phrase: "(t)here is a saying and I'm going to say it: When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it" in reference to a new housing development.
  • Eric Pickles allegedly told a survivor of child abuse to ‘adjust your medication’ during a disagreement.
  •  UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has made some very concerning comments about consent and children.
  •  William O’Rourke, a Labour councillor in Glasgow, was suspended from his party after suggesting a 9 year old rape victim was not "“typical innocent nine year old”.

I am joining the organisation Ending Victimisation and Blame (Everyday Victim Blaming) in  asking that all elected representatives and policy makers, at every level of government, undertake specialist training by organisations who work in the field of domestic and sexual violence and abuse. I do not think it is appropriate for people who believe rape myths to be creating or voting on policies which disproportionately effect women and girls who experience violence daily. A basic understanding of the gendered reality of violence against women and girls is necessary to create appropriate policies to both end violence as well as supporting current victims. These policies apply to social care, education, housing, policing, criminal justice, and healthcare.

There are a number of organisations across the UK who offer training.

I would like you to approach a local or national organisation to undergo the appropriate training to ensure universal good practise guidance for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

Thank you,

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2 thoughts on “Holding our politicians accountable

  • Angie Conroy says:

    Hi, I was just about to email this to my local MP Bob Russell, but I thought the wording at the bottom was a bit.. I dunno.. but not something I wanted to send him. Bob has been a keen supporter of Colchester Rape Crisis Line (when I was the coordinator there some time ago) and he was responsible for helping us secure our first pot of funding from health. Although he didn’t claim to know a lot about VAWG, he was certainly interested to know more and support our work. If the wording was about him encouraging more MPs to seek out training (maybe collectively, inviting trainers into Parliament to provide awareness raising to a group of them together) then I feel it would be a bit more ‘solution focused’ as opposed to telling him to go and seek out training on his own.. just my thoughts and probably the kind of wording that I’ll use in the email that I will send him..

  • Red says:

    Thank you for this excellent and difficult work in highlighting such an important issue. I have done as it has been suggested here, all went smoothly.
    I would really like to take this opportunity to share this

    “The absent referent: that was what animals eaten for meat were! The next day, I realised that the absent referent was what enabled the interweaving of the oppression of women and animals.
    Behind every meal of meat is an absence: the death of the animal whose place the meat takes. The ‘absent referent’ is that which separates the meat eater from the animal and the animal from the end product. The function of the absent referent is to keep our ‘meat’ separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep the ‘moo’ or the ‘cluck’ or ‘baa’ away from the meat, to keep something from being seen as having been someone. Once the existence of meat is disconnected from the existence of an animal who was killed to become that ‘meat’, meat becomes unanchored by its original referent (the animal), becoming instead a free-floating image, used often to reflect women’s status as well as animals’. Animals are the absent referent in the act of meat eating; they also become the absent referent in images of women butchered, fragmented, or consumable.

    Preface to the Tenth Anniversary Edition. Page 13
    The Sexual Politics of Meat. Carol J. Adams.
    ( http://www.caroljadams.com/spom.html )

    PS.
    The absent referent in the phrase ‘rape of the planet’ is ‘woman’, clever huh? Planets do not get raped.