Men from Lewisham speak out in support of ending men’s violence towards women and girls
A number of local men, including Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, have come together to take a stand against violence against women and girls.
In a series of audio recordings by WAVES Lewisham called “The Voices of Male Allies” men talk about what they know about violence against women and girls what they would do if they knew a man who was being violent or abusive towards his partner, girlfriend or wife.
In the first interview to be released, Sir Steve Bullock said there is no evidence of the large-scale sexual exploitation of girls that happened in Rotherham happening in Lewisham. However, he felt that if he assumed the sexual exploitation of children and young people was not happening within the Borough he would be failing victims. He stated he would like people in Lewisham to be vigilant and for professionals to learn from the experiences of others. He also stressed that the struggle for women’s equality was undermined by ‘half the population’ facing or at risk of violence.
Interviewee Lamar Hurley, founder of local youth magazine @platform1st has supported a woman who has been raped by being a shoulder to cry on. He has seen sexist behaviour on the football pitch, while coaching young people, and believes that women should be equal and not be discriminated against.
Detective Inspector Justin Davies from Lewisham CID explained that violence against women and girls covers more than domestic violence, citing rape and female genital mutilation as other examples. He also assured any women who may be experiencing violence that the police would listen and take them seriously.
Street League’s Peter Dacres pointed out that violence against women and girls is an infringement of their rights and contributes to their inequality. He has confronted young men who have been abusive towards young women and actively encourages girls and young women to participate in football.
Nigel Desborough, a leader at Forest Hill Community Church, has helped women to leave violent men and believes Churches have a safeguarding responsibility. Nigel explained the Bible, particularly older scriptures, can be misinterpreted to reinforce the maltreatment of women. However, he states that is not what the Bible teaches and, when translated in a more healthy way, the bible supports equality between the sexes.
The audio recordings will form Lewisham’s response to the #HeForShe campaign led by actress Emma Watson. They will also be played at the Deptford Lounge from 22 November to 29 November. WAVES Lewisham is also holding a day of activity at the Deptford Lounge on 29 November to raise awareness of the UN Women International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls.
Kirsty Lowe, Co-Founder of Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity (WAVES) Lewisham said: “Men can be uncomfortable talking about the violence and abuse of women, sometimes feeling they are being accused or held personally responsible for the actions of other men.
“WAVES has many male supporters and we wanted to capture them talking about men’s violence to show leadership in making the world a safer place for women and girls. We’d like more men and women to participate in the #BigLewishamConversation on twitter and in real life to explore how, as a community, we can work together to bring an end to violence against women and girls.”