Portsmouth campaign calls out attitudes that lead to violence against women and girls


We all have a role to play in tackling sexual violence – that is the central message in a new campaign unveiled this week by Portsmouth City Council. The campaign asks people in the city to step up and challenge their own attitudes and behaviour and to speak out if they see or hear others behaving in a harmful manner.

Supported by the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night Fund, the campaign is targeted at challenging how some people think and act on a night out in the city.  Thought-provoking questions like if you bought a drink, would you feel like she owes you? are being posed on posters that will be shared around the city and with venues like pubs and clubs as well as with big organisations like the university and Royal Navy and on social media.

Councillor Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Portsmouth City Council, comments: “This campaign is designed to make us all stop and think about the attitudes we may have written off at ‘trivial’ or ‘normal’ on a night out in the past and asks us take action if we see or hear something that’s not right.

“It is not the responsibility of women and girls to learn how to defend or protect themselves. Men commit the majority of violent and sexual offences and therefore have a vital role to play in making Portsmouth a safer city. Now is the time to learn how you can step up against violence towards women and girls – challenge your mate if he’s making sexually explicit comments, call out the so-called banter, or offer support if you see someone being hassled in a bar or club.”

As well as wider attitudes and behaviours, this initiative looks at the issue of violence towards sex workers, who can be particularly vulnerable to harassment, abuse and sexual violence – building on the work of Portsmouth-based organisation Vista, which offers support to local women in the sex industry.

The campaign is one of several related initiatives being rolled out by the council and local organisations including Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service (PARCS), Pompey Safe Spaces, City of Sanctuary and Shaping Portsmouth. Supported by funding from the Home Office and the Hampshire Police Crime Commissioner, these programmes aim to raise awareness of violence against women and girls in the community and support people who have experienced harassment and sexual violence.

To find out more about what you can do to help change attitudes and tackle violence against women and girls, or to find local support if you’ve experienced harassment or abuse visit: www.SaferPortsmouth.org.uk/VAWG and www.SaferPortsmouth.org.uk/stepup