Tackling violence against women
Councillor John moved the motion circulated in her name. She thanked Councillors Harrison, Hunter and Kabir for their work on the task group. Although the very successful work of the task group was not yet complete, Councillor John stated the matter was being brought to Full Council to engage all members in the issues and get all party agreement to taking the matter forward. She referred to the Member development session that was taking place on 21 November dealing with the issues concerned with violence against women and urged as many colleagues as possible to attend. Councillor John referred back 20 years to when the issues had first been raised and stated that not enough progress had been made until more recently. She felt it was now time to bring the issues up to date again. She referred to statistics on the practices world-wide and the fact they broke two UN charters. Despite this the practices were still widespread in some parts of the world and bore a direct relation to gender inequality. Councillor John referred to a very good House of Lords report which would be available at the development session about the incidence of forced marriages. She referred to press campaigns and stories highlighting cases of violence against women that had taken place across the world and in the UK. She called on the Council to support the motion and adopt the 5 year target set by the Government to end all practices which caused physical or emotional distress to women. In support of this, Councillor John referred to the good work being done on these issues by London Councils and other London Boroughs. Councillor Hunter supported the motion by calling on all members to think what they could do to prevent violence against women and girls. She drew attention to White Ribbon day which was started by a man which she felt was significant. She referred to young people being interviewed on the radio about lowering the age of consent and all of them expressing the view that better sex education in schools and teaching respect for each other would help towards ending these practices, which she supported. Councillor Kansagra supported the motion by recognising the shameful practise that took place and he added to this the issues of human trafficking, forced prostitution and domestic violence. He stated that the Government had enabled more prosecutions to take place but more resources were needed to help the victims and punish offenders. Councillor HB Patel added that everyone needed to speak out against such violence.
The motion was put to the vote and declared unanimously CARRIED.
(i) that the work of the members’ task group on Tackling Violence against Women and Girls in Brent be commended; recognising that the task group is committed to ending harmful practices by raising public awareness of issues such as female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages and honour-based violence with these practices, and all instances of violence against women, constituting illegal, intolerable acts and human rights violations;
(ii) that the positive influence members can wield within communities by encouraging individuals and groups to speak out against harmful practices, which impact on the wellbeing of women and girls in Brent be noted; to ensure that members are fully informed on all these harmful practices and how to deal with them effectively, to note that a member development event is to be held on 21 November 2013, led by the expert organisations FORWARD and the Asian Women’s Resource Centre;
(iii) that the work of the White Ribbon Campaign day - a charitable organisation started by men which seeks to end violence against women - be noted and whole-hearted support be given to this cause and the White Ribbon pledge be signed to affirm that members will never condone or remain silent about violent acts against women and to note that a Brent Council event marking White Ribbon Day – the internationally recognised day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – will be held in the Civic Centre on 25 November 2013;
(iv) that all members unite in the fight against the harmful practices, and resolve to end all practices which cause physical or emotional distress to women and girls in Brent within the 5-year target set by the Government earlier this year.