'Enough is enough': Vigil demands end to violence against women

Organisers remembered women died from male violence

Organisers remembered women died from male violence - Credit: Kat Pirnak

As part of an international campaign to raise awareness for violence against women and girls (VAWG), Camden Council held its first borough-wide debate around the issues of male violence last Monday (November 22).  

The debate, which formed part of a full council meeting at the Crowndale Centre, included councillors, the borough commander and local organisations dedicated to supporting women in Camden. 

Shortly before the meeting, the council held a vigil where leader Cllr Georgia Gould read out the names of the 19 women who died in London this year as a result of male violence.  

During the vigil, Cllr Nadia Shah said: “Enough is enough. Women have the right to live free from the fear of harassment or violence. Men have the responsibility to recognise their role for true change to take place in our society.” 

Candles were lit for each of the 113 women killed in the UK from male violence in 2021, including Nicole Hurley who was stabbed to death in Primrose Hill in a suspected domestic homicide. 

The debate and vigil were part of the council’s involvement with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence as well as White Ribbon Day, which calls on men to take an active role in ending VAWG. 

During the debate, councillors heard from representatives of Hopscotch, the Camden Women’s Forum, Solace Women’s Aid, Outspoken Sex Ed, and Parliament Hill School.

Councillors holding a banner ahead of a meeting on women's safety

Councillors holding a banner ahead of a meeting on women's safety - Credit: Kat Pirnak

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Speakers and councillors spoke about sex education, street harassment and the intersectionality of women’s issues, and reported misogyny inside the Metropolitan Police. 

Director of Outspoken Sex, Ed Leah Jewitt, spoke about the issue of pornography citing one study which found 88% of porn to be degrading towards women.  

She said: “Sexist jokes, banter, cat-calling, and harassment can end with rape and murder. 

“Parents talking openly with their children about difficult sex and relationship topics continues to play a crucial part in making violence against women and girls socially unacceptable.”

Cllr Anna Wright voiced her support for improving sex education, saying: “Pornography is a global campaign for the promotion of male power over women, misogyny, and inequality. Tackling porn culture is a key part of tackling violence against women.” 

A 2021 investigation by UN Women UK, which referred to VAWG as the “shadow pandemic”, found that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed, with a further 96% choosing not to report these incidents.  

At the same time, evidence from the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed that one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. 

The Home Office revealed in May 2021 that less than one in 60 rape cases recorded by the police last year resulted in a suspect being charged.

Cllr Georgia Gould (left) speaks outside the Crowndale Centre

Cllr Georgia Gould (left) speaks outside the Crowndale Centre - Credit: Kat Pirnak

Speaking on the issues of VAWG in relation to the Met, Chief Superintendent Andy Carter said: “I recognise that recent appalling events have shone a light on how much we as a police force must do to prevent future tragedies and to tackle predators. 

“To reassure our communities we have stepped up our patrols of open spaces in Camden. 

“I know that the Met is far from perfect, but I do know that it is capable and caring. Tackling violence remains the Met’s number one priority.” 

Whilst the majority of those who contributed during the debate were women, Hopscotch CEO Benaifer Bhandari was one of many throughout the debate who urged men to play a more active role in ending VAWG.  

She said: “Every day, men should commit to one act which is anti-misogynistic. It could be calling out an appalling behaviour towards a woman.  

“It could be speaking to a young male person positively about women. Make sure by the time your head hits the pillow, you have committed that act.”

Candles as part of the vigil

Candles as part of the vigil - Credit: Kat Pirnak

Cllr Shah ended the landmark meeting by promising to continue prioritising the fight against VAWG in Camden and carry on campaigning for the criminalisation of misogyny at a national level.  

To watch the full debate visit https://camden.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/594295/start_time/93000