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Sadiq Khan's new strategy tackles violence against women

MAYOR: Sadiq Khan said victim-blaming needs to end

SADIQ KHAN has launched a new strategy to tackle sexual violence and harassment against women and girls today.

The new strategy includes measures to tackle a range of gender-based violence and harassment including rape, FGM, trafficking, controlling behaviour, stalking, harassment, and misogyny - building on the impact of the recent global #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.

Khan joined students from the Central School of Speech and Drama and representatives from Imkaan, a BME charity that works with domestic and sexual abuse survivors, as they shared their thoughts and experiences of sexual harassment.

The mayor of London encouraged victims of unwanted sexual behaviour, criminal offences, inappropriate touching, abuse or harassment on public transport to report it, referring to Transport for London’s new initiative and training to support victims.

He said society needs to move away from victim-blaming and argued that this can be done through preventing violence against women and girls, teaching young people about healthy attitudes, adding that boys in particular need to know that some behaviours are unacceptable.

He also stressed the importance of tackling perpetrators supporting and protecting victims and survivors, which he said would include investing in domestic violence centres.

Khan said that in the past many victims hadn’t been taken seriously.

“If you speak to the victims of inappropriate behaviour, sexual offences, violence, often police officers, public transport staff, people in positions of power and influence haven’t taken it seriously – that’s got to stop. And that’s why we’ve published this strategy, which is comprehensive, but it’s after months of talking to and hearing those sorts of things that we did that. That’s why I can give this reassurance that police will take it seriously, Transport for London will take it seriously.”

Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a UK-based, black feminist organisation addressing violence against black and minority ethnic women and girls, which led the strategy’s survivor consultation, said: “For us, it’s been critical to make sure that the strategy is centred around the voices of women and girls who have experienced violence.”

She added that it’s important that the mayor’s initiative is built on what survivors are saying they’re experiencing and what they think will make a difference.

Larasi, who attended this year’s Golden Globes with Emma Watson, said that activists wouldn’t have engaged in the celebrity space if they didn’t feel this was a watershed moment.

“Having celebrity voices has amplified what already existed. Tarana Burke was doing Me Too before it became a hashtag; women all over the world have been fighting against violence against women and girls. What the celebrity element has done is it’s brought this unprecedented attention to these issues. Many of us are committed to harnessing this moment.”

Khan, who is the first British politician to be invited to the SXSW festival as a keynote speaker, also spoke about the responsibility that tech giants have in regards to making sure people are safe online and dealing with online abuse.

He said that if companies fail to take action, he would make plans to intervene.

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