Councillors stand united to tackle harassment and violence against women in Warrington

April 2, 2021 12:00 PM

Gate at Warrington Council BldgIn a show of unity, Warrington's Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors have joined forces to put forward a motion calling for action to tackle harassment and violence against women in the town.

At a meeting of the full council on Monday evening, councillors overwhelmingly backed the motion tabled by Labour's Councillor Sarah Hall and Liberal Democrat Councillor Sharon Harris and seconded by Councillors Rebecca Knowles and Judith Wheeler.

Tabled following the tragic death of Sarah Everard, the motion notes the lived experiences of many women in Warrington ranging from verbal abuse, harassment, intimidation and violence caused by men, and calls on the council to take firm action to tackle harassment and violence against women in Warrington.

The motion acknowledges that many men in Warrington want to do the right thing to make sure women feel safe and secure, but says there are some who encourage and engage in abusive behaviour - or simply fail to challenge it.

The motion calls on the council to commit to the following actions:

  • To establish a commission to consult and engage with women to better understand their experiences in our borough and to advise on measures to support community safety;
  • To ensure that public funding is made available to support safety measures in the community;
  • To support initiatives to educate and inform men and women about the nature of abusive behaviour and what individuals and organisations can to do help address this type of behaviour;
  • To work with businesses and partner organisations, including the police service and local charities, to help address the issue of harassment, intimidation and violence in our town;
  • To promote the 'Our Streets Now' campaign to make street harassment a crime, and encourage all elected members, and residents to sign the petition;
  • To ask the Leader to write to the Home Secretary to ask her to make street harassment a specific crime;
  • To ask the Leader to write to our two MPs and the Police and Crime Commissioner to ask them to show their support for this campaign by signing the petition and by lobbying ministers to make street harassment a specific crime.

SharonHCouncillor Sharon Harris said: Education is an important part of the answer but not the whole answer. We must teach our young children that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and empathy.

It is horrifying to learn that there is a wide-spread 'rape culture' in schools in this country. The long-term effect on mental wellbeing is unimaginable and can no longer be swept 'under the carpet'. Thankfully these voices are now being heard.

This is a universal issue which affects us all, directly or indirectly. Everyone of us, therefore, must ensure that change is brought about by challenging systemic misogyny and all instances of harassment, abuse and assault - wherever we see it and in whatever context it arises.

jwheelerCouncillor Judith Wheeler said: Some women and girls may feel particularly unsafe due to the prejudices that exist in society. It will be absolutely essential that we listen to and take into account the views of women of colour, diverse ethnicity and faith, ability and disability, different age groups, economic status, sexual orientation and the thoughts and feelings of those who are trans, as well as people who are non-binary. I hope that a positive and supportive approach to listening to their lived experiences will add a hugely important dimension to the outcomes of the commission.

In supporting this crucial motion, Warrington Borough Council hopes that by cross-party working and through a multi-agency approach, our town will be a beacon amongst local authorities in tackling the societal problem of violence and aggression towards women.