Ban the use of previous sexual history as evidence in sexual abuse or rape cases

PETITION

Section 41 of the rape and sexual offences act 1999 states that the sexual history of the claimant can be used as evidence in cases in the U.K. We the undersigned agree that this should be stopped and previous sexual history should be inadmissible in court.

 

More details

 

 

Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

The Everyday Sexism Project and the End Violence Against Women Coalition are asking for Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all schools in England, primary and secondary, state and private. We are asking for SRE to include informationhttp://www.aroomofourown.org/ on sexual consent, healthy relationships, online pornography, gender stereotypes and LGBT rights and relationships. We believe it is essential that SRE is delivered as part of a ‘whole-school’ approach, supported by teacher training; improved school leadership; a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and bullying in schools and a comprehensive review of current statutory guidance on child protection and safeguarding.


Read more Why #SREnow? – a campaign from EVAW and Everyday Sexism

Women’s Aid: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives

PETITION

TO: SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE, RT HON MICHAEL GOVE MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION, RT HON NICKY MORGAN MP AND DISTRICT JUDGES

We are calling on the Government and family courts to ensure there are no further avoidable child deaths as a result of unsafe child contact with a perpetrator of domestic abuse. In order for this to happen the family courts must be a safe place for all the children and survivors of domestic abuse that are relying on them to protect them from further harm.

Two ways they can do this are by:
1. Ensuring that domestic abuse is identified and its impact fully considered by the family court judiciary and that child arrangements orders put the best interests of the child(ren) first and protect the well-being of the parent the child(ren) is living with, in accordance with Practice Direction 12 J Child Arrangements & Contact Order: Domestic Violence and Harm.

2. Ensuring survivors of domestic abuse attending the family court have access to protection measures, similar to those available in criminal courts. Survivors of domestic abuse should always have access to a separate waiting room or area and judges must ensure there are separate exit times from court to allow the survivor to leave safely.

Why is this important?

“No parent should have to hold their children and comfort them as they die, or be told that their child has been harmed in an act of revenge or rage. There are often many facets to one family’s breakdown, and all too often children’s voices are not heard or acted upon” (Claire Throssell, mother of Jack and Paul who were killed in October 2014 by their father after he was granted unsupervised contact with them by the family court).

Over 10 years, 19 children and 2 women have died as a result of unsafe child contact, formal or informal, with a parent who is also a perpetrator of domestic abuse. These deaths were avoidable. To protect children, the family courts must put children’s safety at the heart of any decisions they make about contact with a known perpetrator of domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid’s Child First: Safe Child Contact Saves Lives campaign is calling on the Government and the family courts to protect the children that it has been set up to keep safe. Whilst only a minority of child contact cases, after the parents have separated, are taken to the family courts many of these cases involving domestic abuse result in contact decisions which do not put the children’s safety and best interests first. This can leave them, and their non-abusive, parent in considerable danger.

We need your help so please sign and share this petition widely to ensure that all child contact is safe and there are no further avoidable child deaths.

Visit the Women’s Aid website to find out more about this campaign.

PETITION

WE WILL NOT STAND BY WHEN UN SOLDIERS ABUSE, RAPE AND MURDER

PETITION

TO: UN, BAN KI-MOON

We demand accountability. And we demand it now!

Join us in demanding:

– That the recommendations from the report of Dec 2015 be put into practice

– That the French government withdraw all its troops from the CAR and investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the horrific abuses of children

– That action to ensure victims receive proper care and support in rebuilding their future and prevent further abuse.


Read more WE WILL NOT STAND BY WHEN UN SOLDIERS ABUSE, RAPE AND MURDER

160000 SAY #BACKOFF TO ANTI ABORTION PROTESTORS by @extreme_Crochet

Cross-posted from: Extreme Crochet
Originally published: 16.01.16
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In a world where only the celebrity focused petitions seem to gain huge support …. I’m so happy that my petition has reached over 160k supporters! I’ve been campaigning for well over a year now and visiting No.10 seems like a very long time ago.

There are times when I feel like giving in but knowing that there are so many of you who want the same thing keeps me going.

You don’t have to agree with abortion to know that these protestors are in the wrong. Women should and need to be able to enter these clinics without fear or shame. They are doing nothing wrong and their reasons for visiting these clinics is NONE OF OUR BUISNESS! It’s really quite easy.

If the protestors want to shout and wave banners then they can do it anywhere, several 100m away from the doors of clinics. It is time we did more to protect women. I know that abortion is not a cuddly topic like avenging a dead lion or having a late celebrity named after a new periodic element BUT women’s safety is so much more important and that is far more valuable to society. Then we can get on with our

 lives and tackle everything else.
Much love and solidarity

Exxx

https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-please-create-a-legal-exclusionary-zone-outside-of-abortion-clinics/u/15009390

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114853

 

A Woman AloneA reflection on my life aa single parent in the UK. Twitter @extreme_crochet

Introduce more female key thinkers on the Politics A Level syllabus by @juneericudorie

PETITION

The government has just announced plans to revise the Politics A-Level Curriculum. Feminism has been removed entirely, apart from a mention of the Suffragettes and Suffragists and the proposed curriculum only contains one female political thinker out of seven: Mary Wollstonecraft. The problem with erasing and writing women out of history is that we only get half the story.

When women are underrepresented in society, the government should be working to address this problem. It has been said that you cannot be what you cannot see. Female role models are important. Women like Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the theory of intersectionality, Catherine MacKinnon, an American feminist lawyer, Emma Goldman, anarchist and political activist, Audre Lorde, black feminist writer, Ayn Rand, Russian novelist and philosopher and Simone de Beauvoir, French writer, political activist and social theorist. We must show women to be inspired by and be taught that the ideas of feminism and gender equality are important.

Earlier this year, Jesse McCabe used a petition to keep women on the music curriculum. Together we can use public pressure to make sure that the same happens with the Politics curriculum. There is no excuse for this. There is no reason why the Department of Education and Ofqual shouldn’t get this right. Join me in asking that they change this, so that the curriculum reflects the work, thought and achievements of women.

On social media, use #femalethinkers and let us know who your favourite female political thinkers are.

PETITION

UK Passports – Where are the Women?

Cross-posted from: Sian & Crooked Rib

Cultural femicide is the process from which women are erased from our cultural landscape. The impact of it is to make women’s achievements, creativity, and historical importance invisible. And when women are invisible, that means women role models are lost, women’s revolutions and causes are lost, and the fact that women have shaped our society, our past, our present and our future is ignored.

Cultural femicide therefore has a huge impact on gender equality. 

The UK Passport Office has announced its new design for our new passports. The pages of the passport are dedicated to celebrating great cultural figures and landmarks throughout history. And yet, only two of those figures are women: Elizabeth Scott and Ada Lovelace. Meanwhile, there are seven men. 
Read more UK Passports – Where are the Women?

Raise the closure of Eaves women’s charity at PMQs and demand an emergency review of specialist Violence Against Women and Girls support services

Eaves, a leading UK women’s charity in operation since 1977, has today (30th October) announced it will cease operations immediately. The chair of Eaves has cited the difficult funding climate and changes in the way Government commissions services. The Govt must urgently address the hole left by the closure of Eaves, and ensure measures are put in place to ensure its service users have sufficient provisions. We ask the Govt to meet with the staff and board of Eaves to see how they can help, and what measures need to be put in place to protect the survivors Eaves has served with dedication and tireless work for almost five decades. The Govt must also respond to the concerns Eaves raise regarding the major challenges faced by the specialist violence against women and girls sector. The closure of Eaves makes a mockery of their promise to end violence against women and girls. We call on MPs of all parties to urgently raise this issue with the Government, and Jeremy Corbyn to raise the matter directly with the Prime Minister at the next PMQs.

PETITION

Urgent: Tell MPs to Protect Access to Abortion and vote against amendment in the Serious Crime Bill

PETITION

On the 23 February the Serious Crime Bill will be debated in Parliament. It includes a last minute amendment to the bill which specifically criminalises sex selective abortion.

We are deeply concerned that this amendment would have an immediate negative impact on women’s access to abortion and is a first step towards further regressive legislation to limit abortion access.

Please sign this petition to ask UK MPs to vote against this amendment and to make the case that their colleagues do the same. If enough people contact their MP they will be more likely to attend the vote and block this dangerous bill from passing.

There are many problems with the amendment. It will:

    • do nothing to address the causes of boy-preference in some communities

 

  • do nothing to stop sex selective practices
  • set the scene for an attack on abortion rights as a whole, by undermining key principles that underpin the 1967 Abortion Act
  • lead to racial profiling of people from communities assumed to be ‘at risk’ of sex selection
  • undermine the doctor patient relationship and patient confidentiality, and will have a chilling effect on doctors who will be less willing to refer for or provide abortion
  • potentially criminalise women, reducing the likelihood that a woman who is under pressure to have an abortion for sex selective reasons will disclose it to a professional and seek the support she needs.

 

The consequences of this bill in terms of the threat to abortion law and access in the UK can hardly be considered unintended, as the bill author, Fiona Bruce, is an anti-abortion campaigner.

The amendment also makes no exception for sex-linked genetic disorders.

There are complex reasons for boy-preference in some communities. An amendment to criminalise sex selective abortion does not and cannot tackle any of these. There is no evidence that the proposed ban would prevent a single sex selective abortion.

Please sign the petition to contact your MP to urgently to ask that they oppose this dangerous amendment.

 

PETITION

Please create a legal exclusionary zone outside of abortion clinics

PETITION

Just to explain my latest petition by Extreme Crochet….

After seeing the Youtube video of a pregnant woman confronting protestors outside an abortion clinic (for want of a better term)….. I was amazed to learn that people can protest, film and harass women as they attend their appointments. Apparently, protesting directly outside a clinic is illegal in France, Canada and the US. Why not here?

I realise that we are talking about talking away someone’s right to protest but what of the rights of these women to be left in peace? I’m not saying ban all anti abortion protests as I am a firm believer in freedom of speech – even if I totally disagree with them. What I’m saying is, let’s have an exclusion zone set up so no protesting can take place directly outside a clinic.

This is a highly emotional time for a woman. Some may be in incredible distress but know that abortion is the right choice for them. You may think what they are doing is wrong although, do you not also value these women’s rights to be free from being videoed?

In my eyes it’s a subtle form of violence against women and trying to take control over their bodies, their choices.

This isn’t about making all protests about abortion illegal, this is about protecting women from being harassed outside of clinics (and whilst they are walking up to the entrance). No ones freedom of speech is being impared!
Exclusion zones are already set up outside the Houses of Parliment. A legal buffer zone to give women privacy is not much of an ask really.

So please consider signing this petition to make protesting outside clinics illegal.

 

PETITION

Reduce female suicide that is attributed to the trauma of male violence.

Reduce female suicide that is attributed to the trauma of male violence.

This public health matter will be brought to the attention of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women prior to their UK visit between 31 March and 15 April 2014. I would like the following points to be addressed:

1.  Include women coping with trauma from domestic and sexual violence when tackling inequalities around access to mental health care. Armed Forces veterans are in the government’s ‘Closing the Gap’ list of priority actions whereas women traumatized by male violence are not. They are at increased risk of suicide and also re-victimization. Please provide a choice of appropriate and effective NHS therapies because over-reliance on anti-depressants or CBT is not an adequate response.

2.  Address possible inequality in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme by reconsidering from a gendered perspective. Waive the requirement of immediate reporting for domestic and sexual violence claims. Replace case officers’ discretion with an absolute by abolishing (or greatly extending) the 2 year limitation period for domestic and sexual violence claims. This will facilitate access to private, specialist therapies for women who cannot otherwise afford it.

I’ve launched this campaign for women coping with trauma from current or past experiences of domestic and sexual violence. Cuts to women’s services, legal aid, and welfare reform are a toxic combination that will heighten our vulnerability. It is a global problem of epidemic proportions and a gender-neutral approach could eradicate our current progress.

Public Health

Women coping with trauma may be dealing with any, or all, of the following: depression; anxiety and panic attacks; social phobia; flashbacks; nightmares/terrors; substance misuse; eating disorders; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; suicide ideation; self-harm; and attempted suicide.

For nearly 30% of women who experience domestic violence (DV), the first incident will happen during pregnancy. There is clear association between DV, pregnancy, and maternal suicide. 19% of women who experience abuse while pregnant will attempt suicide (compared to 5% of non-abused pregnant women).

Women who have experienced physical violence from husbands and partners are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than other women.

A systematic review of global, longitudinal studies (Devries, et al. 2013) found intimate partner violence associated with attempted suicide.

Of the attempted suicides by women leading to A&E admission, 80 a day are attributable to DV and almost 30 a day have DV as the primary cause.

The number of female deaths by suicide from the trauma of DV is 10 times higher than the number of deaths by suicide from the trauma of war.

In 2011, 15 serving soldiers died by suicide. In the same year, 156 women living with DV died by suicide.

In 2012, 21 serving soldiers died by suicide and BBC Panorama established a further 29 by veterans, making a total of 50 suicides attributed to war. 34% of female suicides can be attributed to DV. On 2011 figures, that is 508 deaths from a total of 1,493. (2012 figures not yet available).

Waiting lists for psychological therapies are too long. Often, the quality and type of available therapy is inadequate. Therefore, victims of violent crimes are funding their own recoveries – if they can afford it. Those who cannot must rely on self-help.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA)

CICA claims must be made within 2 years of incidents which need to be promptly reported to the police. DV is a grossly under-reported crime so this could be excluding the majority of victims. It is estimated that fewer than 1 in 4 people report DV to police (Home Office, 2013). “It is estimated that up to 9 in 10 cases of rape go unreported and 38% of serious sexual assault victims tell no-one about their experience” (Stern Review). Women may be unable to report immediately for myriad reasons, including psychological harm. Case officers have discretion for these particular claims but it is unknown whether knowledge of gender and trauma informs their decision-making.

Re-victimization

Once a person has been victimized, their risk of experiencing further crime is higher than someone who hasn’t experienced any. The level of repeat victimization in domestic violence is higher than for any other crime. This risk may be alleviated by access to high-quality, specialist mental healthcare. It could be argued that the government fails to exercise due diligence in mitigating psychological harm to women from male violence. It could be argued that the State condones further violence by failing to ameliorate this risk of re-victimization. Current policies do not appear to reflect government’s strategy to end violence against women and girls with its vision to ‘provide adequate support’ and ‘take action to reduce the risk’.

Legislation

Current approaches to healthcare provision and compensation to victims may not comply with domestic legislation, European Conventions and international laws.

Policies may be discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010. Public bodies may not be meeting their public sector equality duty under s.149 by having due regard to eliminating discrimination, advancing equal opportunity, and fostering good relations.

Policies may be violating The Human Rights Act 1998 and Article 1 (respecting human rights), Article 2 (right to life), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and Article 14 (prohibition on discrimination) under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Violence against women puts lives and health at risk. Failure to ensure equal access to healthcare, provide appropriate support, and payment of compensation may violate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Recommendation No’s 19, 24 (incl. Article 12 for women and health) and 28).

Equality and a gender perspective are both required under the Istanbul Convention. Although not yet in force, the UK has signed this Convention (but not yet ratified) and it clearly shows the direction we need.

“It is reasonable to suggest that women who experience domestic violence and also subsequently attempt suicide do so out of a will to live” (Maris, 1971).

Please help raise awareness. If you agree, please sign the petition calling for urgent access to therapeutic interventions. Help me to help them to live

 

I am on twitter @10womenaweek

SOS: Save Refuges, Save Lives

PETITION

 

TO: PRIME MINISTER , THE RT HON DAVID CAMERON MP

SOS: Save Refuges, Save Lives

Our world-leading national network of specialist refuges is in a crisis. Across England, specialist refuges are closing or being replaced by non-specialist providers because of funding cuts and poor local commissioning decisions.

We want the Government to commit to preserving the national network of specialist refuges and exploring a new model of funding and commissioning for refuges which supports a sustainable service and high quality care. Without refuges, women will have nowhere to go to flee domestic violence. This crisis will cost lives. We must act now.

Why is this important?

Two women are killed every week in England by a partner or ex-partner. These are the women who desperately need these specialist refuges. Last year Women’s Aid member organisations supported nearly 10,000 women and over 10,000 children in refuge accommodation. However, on one day alone in 2013, 155 women with 103 children were turned away from the first refuge they approached, primarily due to a lack of available spaces. From 2010 to 2014 the number of specialist refuges declined from 187 to 155, leaving many more vulnerable women and children at risk and without specialist support. Closures of specialist refuges will cost lives. Help us to keep these services open for the women and children who need them. Help us Save Refuges to Save Lives.

PETITION

Increase Funding for Support for Victims of Sexual Violence

TO: RT HON MIKE PENNING MP & RT HON THERESA MAY MP

Dear Mike Penning and Theresa May, Please ensure victims of sexual abuse have access to specialist support by permanently funding more independent sexual violence advisers (ISVA’s). The role of an ISVA is to make sure that victims of sexual abuse have the best advice they need; from sourcing counselling and support services available to them, guidance on the process involved in reporting the crime to the police and taking their case through the criminal justice process if they choose to do so.

Why is this important?

Based on data from the ‘Crime Survey for England and Wales’ around 473,000 adults were victims of sexual offences (around 404,000 females and 72,000 males) on average per year from 2009-2012 (Sexual Offending in England and Wales, 2013). 90% of victims of the most serious sexual offences reported they knew the perpetrator, yet only 15 per cent of victims of such offences said that they had reported it to the police. Stating that it was ‘embarrassing’, they ‘didn’t think the police could do much to help’, that the incident was ‘too trivial or not worth reporting’, or that they saw it as a ‘private/family matter and not police business’. We must learn from the tragic case of Frances Andrade, who tragically died at her home in Guildford, Surrey in January 2013, just a week after giving evidence in court about historical sexual abuse by her former choirmaster. Her husband, Levine Andrade, 59, found his wife, known as Fran, dead at 8am on 24 January last year. He said, “Apart from the trial bringing it all back up she felt the defence barrister seemed to be attacking her personally. “It got her completely down and she felt completely defenceless. I think she felt she was not prepared enough for the trial. She was not expecting to be attacked personally and have to answer so many direct questions in public. Much more needs to be done to provide and promote professional high-quality support services to help victims move on with their lives. Only when victims have sufficient support can they make the choice to go through the criminal justice system. More importantly victims must have sufficient professional support to endure the often lengthy and protracted court process. In the policy ‘Ending violence against women and girls in the UK’ it stated that the government would part-fund 87 independent sexual violence advisers and pledging £1.2 million for 3 years from 2012 to improve services. The problem is this funding will end in 2015 and 87 part-funded ISVA’s are far from adequate for the number of victims we have in the UK. We need to put this on the public and government agenda before the next elections.

Counting Dead Women

Demanding the government create a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women

 

To:

Theresa May, Home Secretary

In the first three days of January 2012, seven women in the UK were murdered by men, three were shot, one was strangled, one was stabbed, one was beaten then smothered and one was killed through fifteen blunt force trauma injuries. Karen Ingala Smith started counting and commemorating women killed though male violence, by the end of August 2013, she had counted 197 dead women.

The Home Office currently records and published data on homicide victims and the relationship of the victim to the principal suspect and sex of the victim. This does not do enough to tell us about fatal male violence against women:

  1. It doesn’t tell us about the sex of the perpetrator
  1. It doesn’t connect the different forms of male violence against women

The government has made it mandatory for a ‘domestic violence homicide review’ to be held every time a someone is killed through domestic violence. That’s good but it isn’t wide enough. The government doesn’t have a Domestic Violence Strategy, it’s done better than that, it has a Strategy to End Violence Against Women and Girls. Your policies should reflect this.

I don’t think the murders of Kimberley Frank and Samantha Sykes by Ahmad Otak were any less about male violence against women that they would have been if he had been the boyfriend of one of them.

I don’t think the murders of Margaret Biddolph, 78 and Annie Leyland,88 by Andrew Flood, 43; or Irene Lawless, 68 who was raped, beaten and strangled by 26 year-old Darren Martin, after he had been looking at pornography involving rape and older women, were any less about misogyny.

Femicide isn’t just about women killed though domestic violence.

  1. It dehumanises women.

The statistic ‘on average two women a week a killed through domestic violence in England and Wales’ is well known. People seem to be able to repeat this without getting outraged or upset, through connecting and naming the women killed, I would like the horror and unacceptability of what is happening to be made to feel more real.

The murders of some women barely cause a ripple, some don’t make it into the national media. If the press take this seriously, there’s more chance of people seeing what is going on, of understanding the implications of male violence and to say ‘no more’. Ultimately, I want to see men stop killing women.

I would like to see a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women. I would like to see analysis of the connections between the different forms of fatal male violence against women. I would like to see a homicide review for every sexist murder. I would like the government to fund a Femicide Observatory , where relationships between victim and perpetrator and social, cultural and psychological issues are analysed. I want to believe that the government is doing everything it can to end male violence against women and girls. I think the government should ensure that we record and commemorate women killed through male violence – not Karen Ingala Smith, a random woman trying to do this from a bedroom in east London.

That is why I am supporting Karen’s campaign ‘Counting Dead Women’. Please stop ignoring dead women and ensure that all fatal male violence against women is properly understood and that women killed are identified and commemorated.

 

BBC : Stop Minimising Child Rape

PETITION

 

The BBC coverage of trials of child rape, sexual exploitation and abuse have been placed, on the online site, under the heading of “news” and the heading of “Arts & Entertainment” when the person accused or convicted has worked in the entertainment industry.

I have complained numerous times about the inappropriateness of labelling the trials of Rolf Harris, Freddie Starr, Stuart Hall and Max Clifford as “Arts & Entertainment” as it minimises the crimes for which they were investigated, charged, and, in some cases, convicted. Trials of child rape, sexual exploitation and abuse are not entertainment, regardless of whether or not the man under investigation worked in the entertainment industry. It does tremendous harm to victims to see their experiences of sexual violence minimised in such a manner by implying that the former employment of the man charged is more important than the crimes committed.

In the most recent letter from the BBC in response to my complaint, the BBC claims that placing such articles under the heading of “Arts & Entertainment” is exactly the same as placing an article on the use of the internet in sharing images of children being sexually exploited, abused and raped under the heading of technology. The fact that the BBC’s official response so clearly misses the point shows just how little they understand the impact of victim blaming and the minimisation of sexual violence on victims and the ability to have sexual abusers and rapists convicted.

Please join me in asking the BBC to reconsider their policy of placing articles featuring child sexual abuse, exploitaton and rape under the category of “Arts & Entertainment”.

I’ve started a petition to get the BBC to change their policy. Please sign and share it!

I have complained a number of times. This is the most recent response:

Reference CAS-2728613-MKGSSH

Thanks for contacting us regarding the article ‘Rolf Harris trial: Entertainer denies ‘ludicrous’ assault claims’.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

I understand you were concerned that the report was featured under the heading of ‘Entertainment’.

Stories about abuse are written by our main UK news desk and published on a story page that simply says “News – UK.”

However, because they may have some relevance or significance to audiences coming to the site for Arts and Entertainment coverage we also place those stories on the Arts and Entertainments section in much the same way as we might place a story about a child sex abuse internet ring in our Technology section as well as in the main news section.

Thank you again for contacting us. All complaints are sent to senior management and our news teams every morning and we included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future output.

Kind Regards

PETITION

Mother’s Names Should be on Marriage Certificates

In England & Wales mothers’ names are not on marriage certificates.

This is not fair.

This is 2014.

Marriage should not be seen as a business transaction between the father of the bride and the father of the groom.

This seemingly small inequality is part of a much wider pattern of inequality.

Women are routinely silenced and written out of history.

There is space for the name of the Father of the Bride and the Father of the Groom and their occupations. On civil partnership certificates there is space for mothers, and on Scottish and Northern Irish marriage certificates.

Act now – sign the petition – share it with friends. Get this anachronism changed.

Stop denying children with special educational needs the right to adequate and appropriate educations.

To:
Michael Gove, The Department for Education
Stop denying children with special educational needs the right to adequate and appropriate educations.The UNICEF: Rights of the child states that “Every child has the right to an education which develops their personality, talents and abilities to the full.” In the UK we pride ourselves on access to education, however children all over the country are being denied an adequate and appropriate education. Children are being denied statements which could legally enshrine their rights to appropriate educational placements and interventions and they are being denied appropriate schooling because there are not enough appropriate placements for children with special needs.

The government are rebranding statements as Education and Health Care Plans, however this does not help those children being denied statements and does not further the support given to those who do receive them. It is a cynical attempt to privatise SEN interventions in order to cut costs and is dressed up as promoting parental choice.

There is an inadequate number of schools to deal with the varying needs that many children have, and many are leaving school with no qualifications due to unsuitable provisions. We cannot allow children’s educational potential to be undermined due to a lack of funding. Every child should be viewed with high aspirations and be supported by the full force of the education system. Parents should not have to fight for these needs to be met, but must be fully supported by the state apparatus in their quest to meet the needs of their children.

Being a parent of a child with SEN is exhausting, not because of the strains of looking after your child, but because you have to fight for every single piece of support your child receives. Parents all over the country are having to home educate their children, legally fight LEAs, and enter processes of negotiation which can last for years.

If the mark of a civilised society is how it treats its weakest members this government must implement adequate legislative frameworks which go beyond privatisation and rebranding, they must ensure that an adequate number of placements are available for children to reach the height of their potential and they must provide more funding for CAMHS, social care, and specialised educations. Otherwise the UK can no longer claim to be a civilised society.

 

BBC: Adhere to responsible reporting guidelines on violence against women and girls

PETITION

The media affects the way we view the world around us. Therefore it’s crucial that journalists report issues responsibly. Particularly journalists at the BBC, paid for by us the licence fee payer.

Yesterday (31st Oct) I was dismayed to see the BBC had published a news story with the headline ‘Care girl had sex with member of staff’. This puts the responsibility on the 16 year old girl, looked after by the state, rather than on the worker who abused their position of authority. This also means it was abuse, rather than sex.

The next day (1st Nov) I woke up to the headline ‘Man dies after woman stabbed to death’. I wanted to cry. A woman was violently murdered but framed in the headline as an afterthought. After all, a MAN had died. Actually, 2 women die each week from violence perpetrated by a man known to them. I know this because I counted all of these murders in one year.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is endemic across society. It is vital that the BBC and other journalists report on issues relating to VAWG in a way that draws attention to the seriousness of the issue and highlights clear who is the perpetrator and who is the victim/survivor. Language matters. It is such an important issue that the National Union of Journalists saw fit to issue it’s own guidelines relating to reporting, including points such as:

– Name violence against women as violence against women (e.g. domestic violence is not a “volatile relationship”). Do not use the word sex when you mean rape. “Honour” crime should appear in quotes or with “so-called” before it. “Crimes of passion” is not an appropriate way to describe murder.

– Take care not to imply that a survivor of gender-based violence might be somehow, even partially, to blame for the violence she has experienced, nor assume or imply that any of her behaviour might have triggered the abuse or that “she asked for it”.

– Avoid treating homicides resulting from domestic violence as inexplicable or unpredictable tragedies simply because the factors which led to the homicide are unknown.

Despite these very clear guidelines, the BBC continues to publish news headlines and articles which go against these core messages and contribute to victim-blaming attitutes and the erasure of women’s experiences.

I’m calling on the BBC to properly adhere to the guidelines and to properly engage with organisations like Ending Victimisation and Blame (http://everydayvictimblaming.com/) to develop a better understanding of these issues. Women deserve better from our public service broadcaster.