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New campaign launched to ‘tackle’ gender-based violence in Greater Manchester, The Manc

New campaign launched to ‘tackle’ gender-based violence in Greater Manchester

The campaign is aimed at men and boys to challenge problematic behaviours and tackle the sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces.

A new campaign aimed at men and boys challenging their behaviours to “tackle” sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces has been launched in Greater Manchester this week.

#IsThisOK has been launched by Mayor Andy Burnham and Baroness Bev Hughes – Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice.

As part of the Greater Manchester 10-year ‘Gender-Based Violence Strategy’ – which was published back in September – the Mayor committed to personally leading the campaign, and so has set about launching it with the release of a new video that highlights the experiences women and girls face going about their daily lives.

The video will be taken out into schools, colleges and other community settings in the New Year and will be the first in a range of activities and public engagement about gender-based violence and challenging men’s and boys’ behaviours.

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Some may perceive it as everyday harassment, but the behaviour in the video shows the impact it has on those on the receiving end and asks viewers the question ‘Do you think this is OK?’.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has worked with women’s groups and men and boys as part of the development of the video, and say the video aims to get men and boys to recognise these types of behaviours are not okay, as they are “unsolicited intrusions which make women feel uneasy, threatened or even vulnerable”.

“Every woman will recognise these experiences,” GMCA says.

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The launch of the campaign and the release of the video comes after research conducted by UN Women UK found that:

  • 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space.
  • This number rises to 86% among 18-24-year-olds.
  • Over 95% of all women did not report their experiences of sexual harassment

This is why GMCA say the video is intended to spark a conversation across the Greater Manchester region on the behaviours of men and boys, and what is considered sexual harassment.

Read more: Greater Manchester publishes 10-year plan to protect women

Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Mayor Andy Burnham said: “This year, we have heard heartfelt calls from women and girls, across all ages and backgrounds, for major change when it comes to ending everyday abuse, intimidation and violence [and] I am proud that we are now taking serious action in Greater Manchester in response to those calls with this ambitious 10-year strategy against all forms of gender-based violence.

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“I recognise my personal responsibility to lead a new conversation about the change we need to see and that is why I am bringing forward this campaign aimed at men and boys.”

New campaign launched to ‘tackle’ gender-based violence in Greater Manchester, The Manc
A new campaign aimed at men and boys challenging their behaviours to “tackle” sexual harassment of women and girls in public spaces / Credit: GMCA

He continued: “For too long, women and girls have had to put up with behaviours in public spaces that have made them feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened [so] rather than women being forced to change their behaviours to feel safe, it is men and boys who need to take responsibility for this issue – either by reflecting on and changing our own behaviours or challenging those of people we know.

“If your behaviour is making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe, then our message is simple – it’s not OK.”

The launch of the campaign yesterday also marked the first meeting of the Greater Manchester Gender-Based Violence Board, which was one of the recommendations of the Gender Based-Violence Strategy to establish and will be chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, Baroness Bev Hughes.

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Read more: Wolf whistling and cat calling could be made illegal under new plans to tackle street harassment

GMCA says the Board will “drive the implementation of the strategy” over the next 10 years.

Baroness Bev Hughes added: “I’ve long campaigned for and worked on improving the safety of women and girls against a backdrop of societal attitudes and behaviours that have allowed sexual harassment in public spaces to go on for far too long [but] the tide is now turning on what was once deemed tolerable behaviours such as catcalls or unwanted sexual comments or jokes.

“It was never OK in the past and it’s not OK now.”

New campaign launched to ‘tackle’ gender-based violence in Greater Manchester, The Manc
#IsThisOK has been launched by Mayor Andy Burnham and Baroness Bev Hughes / Credit: GMCA

She continued: “While some might say we should be focusing our energies on serious and violent crime against women and girls, and we are, we must also recognise that gender-based violence is on a continuum [and] turning a blind eye to everyday harassment gives some men and boys licence to go further and can lead to horrific consequences for the victim.

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“The common thread running through all these types of behaviours is that too many men and boys feel entitled to say and do whatever they want to women and girls.

“And that is just not acceptable.”

You can find out more about the #IsThisOK campaign on the GMCA website here.

Featured Image – GMCA

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