Violence against Women and Girls

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2 February 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Oliver Colvile Oliver Colvile Conservative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport 12:00, 2 February 2017

If the Government will support Girlguiding UK’s campaign to reduce violence against women and girls.

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools is totally unacceptable and should not be tolerated, and I pay tribute to the fantastic work of Girlguiding UK, which is tackling this important issue. We are working with it as we take forward the commitment we made in response to the Women and Equalities Committee inquiry on sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools to review existing guidance and then to look at what further support we can put in place for schools.

Photo of Oliver Colvile Oliver Colvile Conservative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. How much training and emotional support is given to girl guides and other young girls who are bullied online?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

Tackling all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, is a priority for us. We are investing £1.6 million over two years directly in anti-bullying initiatives, including via the Diana award project, which has a focus on digital resilience for young people. The Government have also funded the UK Safer Internet Centre to develop new cyber-bullying guidance for schools and an associated online safety toolkit. My hon. Friend’s question highlights the fact that the world is a very different place for our young people these days, and our guidance, laws and teaching need to stay up to date.

Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Shadow Minister (Justice)

Will the Government support Girlguiding’s “Girls Matter” campaign to update the school curriculum to include sexual consent, online safety, tackling violence against women and girls, and LGBT and healthy relationships?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

I have set out my feeling that it is time we look at the guidance that is in place and how we can improve the teaching. That is the right thing to do. We will set out our next steps at the next stage of the Children and Social Work Bill, but we are already doing other things, too. We have already held our first advisory group on looking at updating our guidance on tackling bullying. Through that and the frameworks we have in place, we hope that we can help schools to develop improved codes of practice to combat bullying, too.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Will the Minister confirm that there is co-operation at a comprehensive level, particularly with uniformed organisations such as the Girls’ Brigade, as well as Girlguiding, to combat this pernicious aspect of the 21st century?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

Those sorts of organisations can be vital and incredibly powerful in changing attitudes and helping young girls in particular to understand that they do have a voice and should not accept this sort of behaviour. When I was at the Department for International Development, we worked very closely with Girlguiding on gender equality more generally, and I am pleased that that relationship can continue now that I am at the Department for Education.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

A vital part of fulfilling the aims of Girlguiding’s campaign to end violence against women and girls is challenging the attitudes and behaviour of the perpetrators of these crimes. What are the Government doing to ensure there is national coverage for high-quality, accredited, community-based perpetrator programmes, such as the ones I was involved in—I declare an interest—before I became an MP and came to this place?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

The work that the DFE does is part of a cross-Government programme on tackling harassment, bullying and intimidation. It is about not only supporting people—particularly young people, in the case of the DFE—who are bearing the brunt of that behaviour, but understanding what is driving it and tackling the root causes.

Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

The Girlguiding survey found that 20% of 13 to 21-year-olds have had unwanted pornographic imagery sent to them, and 5% have had indecent images shared without their consent. If the Government really do want to support the Girlguiding campaign, why is the Department cutting the funding to the revenge porn helpline, which has taken more than 2,500 calls in the past year? How will the Minister ensure that victims of revenge porn have access to bespoke support, as promised in the Government’s violence against women and girls strategy, when she is shutting the only helpline in March?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Education

I do not think the hon. Lady has the right information; in fact, we have not made any announcements in relation to that effect yet. Alongside all the comments made by hon. Members today, it is worth reflecting on the fact that another thing we can do is improve the evidence base in this area, which is why we have included specific questions on sexist and racist bullying in the next wave of the National Foundation for Educational Research Teacher Voice survey. We hope that some of the findings from those questions will be available later this year.