A personal account
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Pippa Gardner, a member of Girlguiding UK and Young Women's World Forum 2010 delegate writes about violence against girls in the UK.
Here in the UK, violence against girls and young women is an issue that I believe hasn’t been approached in the right way. Speak to any female student at my university and they will tell you of the existence of attack alarms, a women’s safety bus and other precautionary measures they can take to avoid being attacked by strangers late at night. However, the majority of violence against young women is committed by partners, friends and other known individuals. These measures do nothing to foster a culture of mutual respect between individuals and within society at large. We don’t need to be teaching girls how to avoid getting attacked as though it is inevitable – we need to take action on why violence happens in the first place.
I will be supporting the WAGGGS campaign to Stop the violence and Speak our for girls’ rights because I know personally just how it feels to be on the receiving end of violence. I know how it feels to live with the fear and the repercussions from being assaulted, and I know how difficult it is to walk away from a relationship that has turned abusive. This campaign means a lot to me as I don’t want anybody else to have to face these problems, though I know so many have and still do have to face them.
On a personal level I have used Speak Out, Reach Out, Camp Out - the project I set up as a result of the Young Women’s World Forum 2010 – to raise awareness of the problems associated with violence against girls. I think that by using social media I can get information out to young people who wouldn’t find it through more traditional routes. Awareness of what makes a healthy relationship is an important step for young women to take in order to claim the respect they deserve. As part of the campaign I want to take this further, and do more to end violence against girls and young women.
In a survey conducted by Girlguiding UK in 2008 girls chose ‘stopping domestic violence against women and children’ as the number one issue that they care about. As the largest organization for girls and young women in the UK, Girlguiding UK is well placed to take action on this issue. As an organization we have already offered our support for the UK’s government strategy on Violence Against Women and Girls, and have trained peer educators who can lead sessions on healthy relationships – as teenage relationship abuse can often be a pre-cursor to domestic violence.
I hope whoever is reading this will also support this campaign – as we need everybody on board to make the end of violence against girls a reality.