The Stirling pledge against gender-based violence

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While nothing new, gender-based violence (GBV) is a term we’re all becoming increasingly aware of as the news cycle is filled with numerous stories of women being assaulted, beaten and murdered.

The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines GBV as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

It is also worth acknowledging that while it can affect individuals of any age, gender, sexual orientation, faith or ethnicity, many organisations agree that GBV is more often perpetuated by men and experienced by women.  

According to the University of Stirling’s information webpage about GBV, as many as one in four female students have reported unwanted sexual behaviour while at university around the UK:

“GBV is recognised as a society wide issue, which means that University staff and students will both be victims and perpetrators. 

“At the University of Stirling, we are committed to taking all steps in our power to prevent and tackle gender based and sexual violence in all its forms. 

“The University takes reports of sexual assault or misconduct very seriously. We will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against any student or member of staff who has been found to engage in these behaviours.

“Since the launch of the preventing and tackling sexual violence and misconduct strategy in 2016, the University of Stirling and Stirling Student’s Union have run the multi award-winning #IsThisOk awareness raising campaign. The campaign was designed to encourage people to identify inappropriate behaviours in relation to GBV and take action to challenge, report or change those behaviours. 

“Following consultation with the University community, including staff, students, and victims/survivors of GBV, the University and Students’ Union has adopted a new GBV campaign, Erase the Grey.

“Originally created and launched by Glasgow Caledonian University, Erase the Grey has been adopted by several other higher education institutions across Scotland. The campaign challenges stereotypical attitudes and behaviours and reiterates an unambiguously zero-tolerance approach towards GBV.”

The first published strategy became a nationally recognised approach to gender-based violence and the 2021-2024 strategy is no different.  

“This strategy covering the period 2021-2024 consolidates and builds on the work of our first strategy. Crucially, it aims to broaden our approach to address the spectrum of GBV in line with the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe definition.

“This explicitly encapsulates not just sexual violence but all forms of GBV, including domestic and intimate partner violence, coercive control, stalking, online abuse, intimate image sharing, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and so called ‘honour-based violence’.” 

The strategy is broken down into four different objectives and will measure success through baseline data and trends that will be captured in the supporting monitoring and evaluation framework. The organisations will also seek to utilise recognised, established sources of data where possible. 

Other data sources are likely to include staff pulse surveys/culture surveys, student surveys and qualitative data obtained from engagement with those with lived experiences. There will also be an effort to evaluate the impact of the training programmes and awareness raising work. 

“Objective 1: We will foster a culture where gender-based violence is actively challenged, robustly tackled and in which people experiencing GBV are respected, supported and empowered. 

“Objective 2: We will respond robustly and effectively to incidents of gender-based misconduct when they occur in our community. 

“Objective 3: We will ensure that our staff and students are (i) clear about their options and receive appropriate support if they have experienced gender-based violence; and (ii) are clear about how to appropriately respond to and support those who have experienced gender-based violence. 

“Objective 4: We will improve our knowledge and understanding about the prevalence of and impact of our work to prevent and tackle gender-based violence.” 

The University of Stirling and Stirling’s Student Union also want to raise awareness of the specialist support they have put in place. Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officers are a group of staff specially trained to help those affected by sexual or gender-based violence.  

“They are trained in taking disclosures and supporting people who have been affected by gender based or sexual violence. They will listen empathically to you without judgement and will provide you with information on your options if you have been affected by gender based or sexual violence in any way, even if it wasn’t you that was directly affected.” 

The World Health Organisation estimates that a third of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. The scale of the problem is so much larger than many realise and it’s too soon to slow down.  

Featured Image Credit: Jonathan Boomer

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3rd year English and Journalism student, passionate about social change, Formala 1 and everything in between.

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