MPs call for statutory sex and relationship education as One Billion Rising comes to the UK Parliament
The One Billion Rising campaign hit the UK parliament today as a group of cross-party MPs made an impassioned plea to for parliamentary time to be given to a debate and vote on providing sexual and relationship education in all schools, as part of challenging the growing evidence of the violence and harassment of young girls in Britain. This follows on from work being done by activists across the UK as part of the international One Billion Rising campaign to make ending violence against women and girls a priority for all Governments. Lead by Labour MPs Fiona McTaggart, Karl Turner and Valerie Vaz, the proposal was supported by Conservatives Amber Rudd, Jeremy LeFoy and Jessica Lee as well as Liberal Democrats Annette Brooke and Tessa Munt and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
Labour MP and shadow Minister for Crime Prevention Stella Creasy MP is helping to organise the One Billion Rising campaign in the UK and responded to this move:
‘It is fantastic to see cross-party support for One Billion Rising – I hope all those who agree tackling violence against women should be a priority will also ask their MP to join us in this campaign. Women and those who love them are rising across the UK. Events are planned in places such as Bute, Brighton and Birmingham as well as Sussex, Swansea and South Yorkshire so its only right that the call for an end to violence against women is heard in Parliament too. Recent shocking events both here and internationally- whether in Steubenville Ohio or Battersea in London -show violence and sexual aggression is now an increasingly commonplace part of modern life for young people. To be a more equal society we need to challenge this in a way which empowers them all to make positive and healthy choices about relationships. Making sure this is on the school curriculum is a powerful way we can change the lives of future generations and challenge both boys and girls on their attitudes about what behaviour is acceptable- I hope the parliamentary authorities will listen and join this rising.’
The move follows the work of the End Violence Against Women coalition which launched its ‘Schools Safe for Girls’ campaign in Autumn 2012 and the interim findings of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the University of Bedfordshire’s Exploitation Inquiry, which uncovered worrying trends of increased sexual exploitation of young people by their peers.
Campaigners made their request to the Backbench business committee of MPs which will decide how to allocate parliamentary time given to MPs. They now await the decision of the committee and confirmation that the Government will give this date for backbench business.