SURVIVORS of sexual violence challenged police and regional authorities at a women’s safety event in Warwickshire.
Around 120 people signed up to attend the virtual summit organised by Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, earlier this month.
It follows his campaign to combat male violence across the region.
Five guest speakers were asked about effective educational campaigns in schools and how one might be implemented in the county.
They also spoke about the value of the county’s streetlights being switched on at night – and the importance of feeling safe.
Mr Western said: “My Women and Vulnerable People’s Safety Summit was inspiring and motivating.
“We heard from important guest speakers of all ages and even from some people who shared very personal experiences.
“It was useful to hear from the experts about how an educational campaign could be run to root out misogynistic views and behaviours.
“There will be much more to come on this and please get in touch if you want to be involved or have any ideas for my campaign.”
Tasha Hardaker, president of the University of Warwick branch of student campaign group ‘It Happens Here’, spoke about the challenges of being a female student at university – and of being a survivor of a spiking attack.
“The summit was incredibly important as it brought together many voices from the anti-sexual violence movement together – from across different backgrounds and areas of expertise.
“I think we can all learn from each other and for things to continue, conversations need to turn into actions – and openness to change is integral.”
Warwick-based sexual violence charity Safeline chief executive Neil Henderson revealed the organisation supports 4,000 people in Warwickshire – but claimed likely victims are more likely to be in the high tens of thousands.
He said: “I’m fully supportive of the campaign – it shines a light on a really important issue that needs addressing.
“The survey highlighted what we know from our clients, that many women and girls do not feel safe in Warwickshire.
“I hope Matt’s campaign will bring about real, sustainable change in the region – because women and girls desperately need it.”
Det Ch Supt Suzanne Baker, Head of Protective Services, took challenging questions over the force’s cuts to nine specially trained domestic abuse officers last year and its poor record on rape convictions.
She said domestic abuse was the force’s top priority and it made up 40 per cent of all the incidents of violent crime reported.
Other guests included Jenni Muskett, deputy chief executive of the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, and Dr Anna Bull, founding member of higher education sexual misconduct think tank, The 1752 Group.
Email [email protected] for information on contributing to the campaign.