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Hello there – Adam Moghadas here. I had a look at the Cambridge News last night and read that there’s been a significant year-on-year increase in reports of domestic abuse in Cambridge. So this week, just after International Women’s Day and with Mothers’ Day on the horizon, I thought we should use the blog to take a look at the work of the White Ribbon Campaign. This is a charity working to prevent and inform about violence against women by engaging men and boys in the conversation. It’s a charity particularly close to our hearts at CFLP for two reasons: first, because as family lawyers we see the effects of violence and abuse against women more frequently than we might hope; and secondly, because I have the very great privilege of being an Ambassador for the charity.

The White Ribbon Campaign is part of a global movement to put a stop to male violence against women and girls. It specifically uses male ambassadors to educate and inform men about the problem of violence against women, and enlist their commitment to playing a part in stopping it.

As family law solicitors, we at CFLP also hear about violence and abuse perpetrated by women on men, and by people of the same gender on each other, and of course on children. The White Ribbon Campaign acknowledges that violence against women is not the only form of violence that matters; but it is the primary form of violence with which the organisation, specifically, is concerned: “Our central focus is on men’s violence against women. Comparing violence committed by women and by men, the British Crime Survey notes that the result of men’s violence is five times as likely to require medical attention. Women are four times as likely as men to fear for their lives, and three and a half times as likely to be murdered by a male spouse than vice versa.”

Across the world, the problem is endemic, as was highlighted last month by the debate surrounding the Government’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention on taking Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, nearly derailed by the attempted filibustering of Philip Davies MP. The Council of Europe notes, “Preventing violence against women and domestic violence should not be left to the state alone. In fact, the Convention calls on all members of society, in particular men and boys, to help reach its goal of creating a Europe free from all forms of violence against women and domestic violence. Violence against women is pervasive because misogynistic attitudes towards women persist. Each and every one of us can help challenge gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women. It is only by achieving real gender equality that violence against women can be prevented.”

This resonates with another recent disturbing survey conducted by The Fawcett Society, Sounds Familiar, on what the UK currently looks like for young women. It found residual hostility towards women and girls even amongst some young men, with a significant minority saying women’s equality has “already gone too far”.

My own involvement with the White Ribbon Campaign arose from being part of the Cambridge Community Forum on Domestic and Sexual Violence /Abuse, after working with Women’s Aid. It came to my attention that Cambridge City Council had become a ‘White Ribbon Council’ to mark its commitment to involving men in gender violence prevention and awareness strategies, and I became an Ambassador myself at the suggestion of local Councillor Ann Sinnot.

I feel passionately that men need to be involved in ‘calling out’ threats, intimidation and violence by men on women and girls wherever we see it. It’s important for men to be part of the conversation about what’s not acceptable in relationships, in a bar, on the street, in the workplace or online. Too many of us stay silent on the issue, believing that it doesn’t have anything to do with us. The fact that violence and abuse disproportionately affects women and girls – our daughters, mothers, sisters, partners, friends and colleagues – is a problem that we have to be involved in tackling.

Talking of tackling, our local football team Cambridge United is another organization working to end male violence against women thanks to the support of White Ribbon Campaign Ambassador and Club Chairman Dave Doggett. This very evening (Wednesday 15 March 2017) the Club is hosting a performance of live drama “Tough Love” which is funded by Cambridge Community Safety Partnership and Cambridge City Council to raise awareness around coercive control and domestic abuse in teenage intimate relationships. It is aimed at students aged 14-16 years old in Years 10-11.

Violence in relationships is unacceptable, no matter who the perpetrator is. If you’ve been affected by violence in a relationship, or wish to discuss any other family law matter, you can give us a call on 01223 443333 and make an appointment to speak to me (Adam), or my partners Tricia, Sue, Gail or Simon.