Bishop Simon urges men to take a stand against violence towards women

The Bishop of Tonbridge, the Rt Rev Simon Burton-Jones, is encouraging men to take a stand and 'show up' when women are demeaned, harassed or abused.

The Bishop's comments come following the recent outpouring of grief and anger surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard, and the reports of  a ‘rape culture’ in Independent Schools which may spread to state schools.

He is also an ongoing supporter of the White Ribbon campaign, a national campaign that asks men to promise not to excuse or remain silent over violence or threats of violence against women.

The Church of England Diocese of Rochester is currently the only Diocese to have officially partnered with White Ribbon. It now has a network of White Ribbon Ambassadors (men) and Champions (women) who help raise awareness of the campaign in parishes.
 
Making his comments available in a podcast, Bishop Simon said:

"The outpouring of grief and anger surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard took many people by surprise.  Most of those taken aback were men.

"Women know all too well the feelings of insecurity in public places.  Men might too, if they listened more carefully to what the women they know are telling them before launching into their latest act of mansplaining."

Figures show that 80% of women of all ages say they have experienced sexual harassment in public.  Between the ages of 18-24, this figure rises to 97 out of 100 women (YouGov poll for UN Women UK conducted in March 2021).

Bishop Simon says that too often, the debate on sexual harassment and violence towards women is framed in a particular way, with men just out of the picture:

"It comes across as a women’s problem, to be dealt with by women, who must adjust their behaviour to be less visible.  Men, meanwhile, more or less get a free pass.  And so the idea of women’s bodies somehow being public property is sustained.

"Until men are seen as part of the picture, and the debate is framed as male harassment of women or male violence on women, it’s unlikely much will change."

The Bishop says it is also important to recognise the intimidation women face online:

"The social media accounts of well-known and influential women are frequently poisoned with vicious, hate-filled language about the violence that is going to be done to their bodies.  It isn’t easy to get a measure of the scale of misogyny online, but the growth of women-hating platforms is growing all the time." 

While recognising that violence is also perpetrated against men, in same-sex relations and many other settings, Bishop Simon says that by men making a conscious decision now to get educated and become an ‘upstander’  against violence towards women, they will be more ready to challenge it when it occurs:

"I would encourage men to make the White Ribbon promise with me. To be an upstander when it counts. To make the world a safer place for women to live and flourish in because they are being listened to and men are taking responsibility for their own actions. 

"Where love and equality, respect and kindness point to the better world that God in Christ is calling into being."

Anthea Sully, Chief Executive of the White Ribbon Campaign UK said:

'All men can make a difference in ending violence against women.  Although it has been in such tragic circumstances it is good that there has been more awareness among men to reflect on their own behaviour and that of their friends and colleagues.

"I know that many have been shocked to hear women describing their ordinary, everyday experiences of violence and abuse and their fear of violence. Male faith leaders, such as Bishop Simon, will encourage many men to listen to women and to learn how they can be allies in creating a more equal society in which violence has no place."

To find out  more about the campaign and to make the promised, visit: www.whiteribbon.org.uk/

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 999.

Support is also available from the following organisations:

  • Domestic abuse helpline - 0808 2000 247
  • Rape Crisis - 0808 802 9999
  • Men's advice line (male victims of domestic abuse)
    - 0808 8010327
  • Galop LGBTQ+ - 0800 999 5428


ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact, Jennifer Ross, Communications Manager and Bishops' Media Adviser on 07526 171 583 / jennifer.ross@rochester.anglican.org




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