Violence against Women and Girls

Part of Contamination of Beef Products – in the House of Commons at 1:26 pm on 14th February 2013.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sarah Wollaston Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes 1:26 pm, 14th February 2013

That is wonderful.

It is crucial that we challenge through education the normalisation of sexualisation and violence towards women, but it has to be the right education. We need to make better use of peer educators. It is no use having an embarrassed teacher who blushes when talking about sex and sexual violence. Often, the best educators are peer educators, particularly those who have been victims and are prepared to talk about the impact that has had on their lives. We want the right people delivering that education, and of course “the right people” includes families. As my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes pointed out, parents should be aware of what their children are accessing and not be embarrassed to talk to them and challenge attitudes as they develop.

We also need to do something about prosecution and the number of people being brought to book for such crimes. Partly, that is about encouraging women to report crimes. From having spoke to women, I know how incredibly challenging that can be and how brave women have to be to come forward and go through the criminal justice system, so it is disappointing that there seems to be a perception in some quarters that women should not be encouraged to report these crimes. In my opinion, that amounts to collusion in a process that says, “Don’t report!” We need to challenge those attitudes and provide the kind of support given by Rape Crisis and the professionals in sexual assault referral centres across the country.

In conclusion, we need to challenge attitudes, encourage reporting, put an end to normalisation and see an improvement in the support provided through our criminal justice system in order to ensure that perpetrators of sexual crimes against women know that they will pay for their crimes.