It Happens Everywhere is our weekly newsletter where we take a look at what is happening in the world and try to start a conversation, a conversation that will make people think, and hopefully stand up against sexual violence.
This week’s newsletter will cover the past two weeks, hence it will be a bit longer.
It Happens Here, It Happens Everywhere.
Broken Rainbow no longer facing closure
Earlier this week Broken Rainbow, the UKs only national LGBT domestic violence charity faced closure due to lack of funding, having faced government cuts. Their website states that 1 in 4 lesbian, gay and bisexual people will experience domestic violence from a partner or family member in their lifetime- and 4 in 5 trans people. Thankfully, their twitter announced on Wednesday that their Home Office funding had been reinstated.
Nine men jailed for sexual violence against girls and women
On Friday, nine men in Manchester were jailed for between five-and-a-half and twenty five years on charges varying from rape, abduction and conspiracy to rape. From 2005-2013, the group abused girls and women aged 13 to 22, some of whom were given alcohol or drugs to incapacitate them. Threats and intimidation were also used. Two of the people who were abused are known to have suffered psychological harm as a result of the abuse.
These kind of events are horrifying. The fact justice has been served, and the bravery of the women who testified against them, will hopefully inspire more survivors to bring their abusers to justice.
France outlaws paying for sex
On Wednesday, French MPS passed a law making paying for sex illegal. Members of the Strass sex workers’ union said it will drastically affect the livelihoods of sex workers in France. However it is feared by advocacy groups it will place sex workers in harm’s way- in order to practice, they will likely have to go further underground, accept clients obscuring their identities and generally take more risks for buyers to be comfortable using their services.
Advocates of the law argue it will protect sex workers and target the problem of sex trafficking. For example, sex workers can call the police on a client if they act inappropriately, and it offers temporary residence permits in France for sex workers from abroad if they agree to find an alternative job.
However it is worth bearing in mind that many sex workers are sex workers out of choice, and are not being exploited and were not trafficked, and so should be supported. Furthermore, many activist and advocacy groups specialising in sex work actually argue that decriminalisation would be the safest thing for sex workers, that it is part of ensuring their human, civil and labour rights, and it is important to respect their freedom to choose and their choices.
Amnesty International also argues that protecting the human rights of sex workers requires that their practice is legal, and opposes the ‘Nordic model’ France has adopted- where sex workers are not criminalised, but purchasing sex is. They argue that it makes sex work less safe and sex workers more vulnerable to abuse. They also point out that there is no evidence that decriminalisation results in more trafficking- in fact it may be easier to tackle if sex workers can feasibly work in the open, and hence there can be better oversight of the commercial sex industry and any potential trafficking within it. If it is illegal to buy sex- then to guarantee clients, sex workers will not be able to have such visibility.
Although this legislation is supposedly in place to tackle a form of sexual violence, it seems misguided and we fear it will endanger sex workers and increase the likelihood of abuse in the industry.
Chariot for Women
There is a new app in town and it’s called Chariot for Women. It provides rides for women, by women. Only ladies and males under the age of 13 can request rides. The aim is to make women feel safer.
Stats show that the number of sexual assault claims against Uber drivers is high. Hopefully this app will solve this problem. Another positive of this app: 2% of every single fare goes to women-focused charities.
For the time being the app is available only in Boston. Let’s hope that they’ll soon expand internationally.
Stephen Fry told child abuse victims to grow up
When speaking to the US TV show The Rubin Report in relations to campus free speech and safe spaces, Stephen Fry thought it was clever to use as an example child sex abuse to illustrate his point. He demeaned the demand for safe spaces as students being unable to “bear complexity”.
This is what he said exactly:
“There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape,” he said. “If you say: ‘you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place’, well I’m sorry.
“It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place, you get some of my sympathy, but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity.
“Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”
His comments have generated controversy. Mental health advocates has spoken against Fry, including the charity Mind that Fry heads as president.
As a campaign who fights daily against sexual violence and is working to empower survivors, we condemn Fry’s comments. The fact that so many people have spoken against his comments is encouraging. But at the same time it is upsetting that a person in the limelight is unable to feel empathy for people who have dealt with terrible circumstances, and is using his platform to trivialise sexual abuse.
The UK government seems uninterested in carrying on the fight against sexual violence in conflict
The former foreign secretary William Hague had started in conjunction with Angelina Jolie a campaign against sexual violence in war. But now this campaign risks collapsing according to a parliamentary report. Hague was keen on fighting sexual violence in conflict. Some of us still remember the 2014 Global Summit to End Sexual Violence that took place in London. But no significant plan to keep the campaign going has been made and the current foreign secretary, Philipp Hammond, seems uninterested in keeping this campaign going.
This is a lost opportunity. Sexual violence in war is a human rights issue and more instead of less should be done to eradicate this issue.
Rhiannon Thompson, Publicity Team
Asta Diabaté, Digital Manager