Sheffield to host vigil as part of international campaign against gender-based violence

Written by Emily Davies

A vigil to raise awareness of gender-based violence is taking place in Sheffield city centre this Sunday.

The event, organised by the Sheffield Branch of the Women’s Equality Party and Our Bodies Our Streets, will run from 6pm and 7pm on Devonshire Green.

It forms part of the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which started on 25 November and runs to 10 December.

Several groups and organisations are taking part in the city, including the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union, the Sheffield Women’s Equality Party and Vida Sheffield.

‘Reclaim the Night’ at Sheffield Cathedral was one of the 16 days of events

Charlotte Mead, the Sheffield branch leader, said: “It’s not enough to just do a vigil when there’s a high profile case in the media.

“With someone like Sarah Everard there was a lot of coverage. There are a variety of reasons why hers was covered a lot and others aren’t, partly because it was a police officer that was convicted.

“This happens to two women every week on average. Some get reported on, some don’t, but it happens even if it doesn’t get reported.”

Mead mentioned that since Sarah Everard died, over 90 women have been killed where the main suspect has been a man.

“It blows your mind to think about it like that. This is something we need to do all the time, not just when a case hits the headlines.

“We need to remember these women and keep the pressure on. A vigil keeps the awareness up and keeps it in people’s minds.”

Marches and vigils are taking place all through Sheffield.

Hollie Venn, the Executive Officer of Sheffield Women’s Aid, which focuses on domestic abuse, said: “We couldn’t have a lot of new women coming into the services because of Covid, so even if women did want to leave abusive relationships, this was challenging because there was less spaces for people to go to over lockdown.

“We want to highlight that we are still here. This is an issue and although we have a campaign for it every year, we’re seeing more awareness which is good but this isn’t eliminating the problem.”

Venn added: “We hear a lot of ‘why doesn’t someone just leave?’ But the question is ‘why do perpetrators abuse?’ Let’s flip the narrative, let’s not victim-blame. Why do people behave like this in the first place?”

Violence against women happens at home, at work on the streets. It affects adults and children alike.

Certain women are more likely to be subject to this violence. Disabled women, for example, are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as non-disabled women, according to the National Office for Statistics.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are helplines available.

Written by Emily Davies

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