How You Can Help Support OBR-UK

Briefing for One Billion Rising Campaign:

Day of Action 14 February 2013

 What this Pack Contains 

  • Introducing One Billion Rising
  • What is Happening in Parliament?
  • How can you Help?
  • Sample Letter to ask MPs to Support
  • Why this vote makes a difference
  • Background on Violence Against Women

Introducing One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising is an international coalition of campaigners speaking out for action to tackle violence against girls and women across the world. As part of celebrating the 15th Anniversary of V-Day on 14 February 2013, through combining creativity with campaigning, it is generating what some are calling a ‘feminist tsunami’. From Norwich to Peru, through Bute, Manila and Luxembourg via San Fransisco, Nigeria and Tel Aviv, activists are organising flashmobs, performances and seeking policy changes that speak to our simple message. To date over 13,000 organisations are now involved in planning events for the 14th February in nearly 190 countries.

In the course of the last nine months workshops have been held across the UK for campaigners who have been developing policy proposals to tackle violence against women and girls in the UK. On the day itself there are over 100 events are planned around the country- to see the full list please visit the website.

What is happening in Parliament?

On the 14th February a vote has been called on the following motion:

Protecting Future Generations from Violence Against Women and Girls

That this House notes the One Billion Rising Campaign, and the call to end violence against women and girls; and calls on the Government to support this by introducing statutory provisions to make personal, social and health education, including a zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse in relationships, a requirement in schools.

This debate reflects a key concern raised at each of the OBRUK workshops about the experiences of young women in Britain and the need to educate both young boys and girls about mutual respect within relationships. The debate will also coincide with the day of action as well as a series of major events in London itself including a rising at the London Eye, the Hayward Gallery, the Young Vic, in Piccadilly Circus, at the Southbank Centre, Whitechapel Art Gallery, in Covent Garden or as part of a travelling Londonwide Flashmob crew. The debate is a backbench business committee debate and has been sponsored by a cross party group of MPs including Fiona MacTaggart, Amber Rudd, Tessa Munt, Valerie Vaz, Annette Brooke, Jessica Lee, Caroline Lucas and Karl Turner.

How you can help the One Billion Rising Campaign

Campaigners may shortly be in touch with their MP to ask them to support the One Billion Rising campaign. Below are some simple ways you can help:

  • Ask MPs to join the Parliamentary debate on combating violence in relationships through effective education in schools and vote yes to the motion. You can find a sample email to send to MPs below or on the OBRUK website as well as details as to how to contact them. Please let the office of Stella Creasy MP know if you receive a positive response to this request.
  • For those who are not in London, there are 100 events across the country listed on the One Billion Rising events page, you can find out about local events here: Please attend a local Rising event and support campaigners in our community.
  • Use social media to show your support for the campaign – please tweet using the #OBRUK or #1BillionRising or let your local newspaper know you are supporting the campaign.

You can follow the campaign on twitter at #OBRUK or #1BillionRising or via Facebook at

Here is the suggested text of a possible letter to your MP to ask them to support One Billion Rising in a Parliamentary vote or by attending one of the many local events that will be taking place in or around their constituency.

Find out who your MP is and how to contact them here:


Dear Mr/Ms XXXXX,

Show your support: Join ONE BILLION WOMEN RISING – 14th February, at XXXX

I’m writing to you as one of your constituents to ask you to either attend a debate in Parliament or join us on February 14th here in XXXX to show your support the One Billion Rising Campaign.

One in three women on the planet is raped or beaten in her lifetime, according to the UN. We believe changing this should be a priority for all Governments around the world including our own.

On 14th February 2013, V-Day’s 15th anniversary, ONE BILLION women across the world will rise up to demand an end to all violence against women. Across the UK over 100 events have been planned in support of this campaign, and the UK parliament will debate and vote on providing statutory sex and relationship education in schools for both boys and girls. Challenging attitudes about relationships and promoting mutual respect is key to ensuring different outcomes for future generations.

We need your help to take our message to Parliament, and we would be delighted if you showed your support by joining our campaign in one of two ways:

–          Stand up against Violence in Parliament on the 14th February. Join in the Parliamentary debate which has been requested on combating violence in relationships through effective education in schools. Please let me know if you would attend this debate to vote in favour of One Billion Rising and this motion.

–          There are 100 events across the country listed on the One Billion Rising events page, you can find out about local events here: Please attend a local Rising event and support campaigners in our community.

Please let us know which of the above actions you can take to support this campaign, or if you do not support this campaign and motion your reasons why so that we can update the campaign organizers. If you would like to attend our local event on the 14th February, please do not hesitate to get in touch for more information, and we’ll be sure to have someone meet you on your arrival at the event.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert name]

[Include your postal address to show that you’re a constituent]


Why would this vote make a difference?

Activists across the country are clear- to prevent violence against women and girls we need to do more to ensure both young men and women are supported to develop positive and equal relationships with their peers. The End Violence Against Women coalition[1] launched its ‘Schools Safe for Girls’ campaign in Autumn 2012. The evidence for the need for action has been further strengthened by 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[2] . So too, a 2010 YouGov poll found that almost a third (29%) of 16-18-year-old girls say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching at school[3], and the NSPCC found that a third of girls in relationships aged 13-17 have experienced physical or sexual violence in relationships, while one in 16 of this group reported experiencing rape[4].

A growing number of high profile examples have also shown what can happen when sexual abuse and violence goes unchecked and unchallenged in schools. Recent, shocking events in Steubenville, Ohio and Battersea show the need to ensure guidance on sexual relationships for young people. Indeed, violence and sexual aggression in now increasingly commonplace part of modern life for Britain’s young people and they need support to be able to make positive choices for their own future. NSPCC Research has shown that children are facing increased exposure to sexual content through modern communication methods especially ‘sexting’. Children as young as twelve are “worried, confused and, in some cases, upset by the sexual and ‘sexting’ pressures they face”[5]

Whilst families play a key role in mentoring children to overcome these cultural and social pressures, high quality sex and relationship education delivered to both boys and girls is also a vital tool in equipping and empowering young people to cope with the challenges and pressures they face. This should be grounded in a zero tolerance approach to violence against women and girls that is reinforced throughout schools from the curriculum to behaviour policies.

Making Sex and Relationship Education statutory and standardised was also a key and recurring recommendation from a recent Cross-Party Investigation into unwanted pregnancies[6]. “[T]here is a growing sense that we need to develop young people’s self esteem, values and awareness so that they can make informed choices.”  In particular the report makes the following recommendations:

  • “The government should take decisive action and make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) statutory.”
  • “Statutory SRE training for teachers should be introduced so that teachers are more informed about the subject”

Whilst this report focused on preventing teenage pregnancy, it also argues the importance of teaching young people to have self esteem, values and awareness through such courses in schools so that they can make informed choices and resist being coerced into sex or peer pressure for risky sexual behaviour. This motion would enable these recommendations to be considered by Parliament, with a vote giving clear direction to the Government as to how to respond to growing calls to take action on this matter.

Background Information: Violence Against Women in Britain

The One Billion Rising campaign has been looking at how to end violence against women in the UK. The following information reflects the scale of the challenge Britain faces:

  • 35 per cent of all murders in England and Wales are domestic homicides.[7]
  • In West Yorkshire alone, over the last 6 months, almost 20 per cent of all emergency 999 calls – over 10,000 incidents– were domestic violence-related.[8]
  • In 2010/11, 728,145 incidents of domestic violence were recorded by the police. Of these, just 14 per cent, or 101,242 incidents, were referred to the Crown Prosecution service for investigation. Of those cases referred, only 63 per cent (or 63,782) ever came to charge and 58 per cent (or 59,101) resulted in a successful prosecution. This means that in 2010/11, only 8 per cent of domestic violence incidents reported to police ended in a prosecution.
  • The total cost of domestic abuse to services (the criminal justice system, health, social services, housing and civil legal) amounts to £3.8 billion per year[9]
  • Domestic Violence is more likely to involve repeat victimisation than any other ‘criminalised behaviour’ (British Crime Survey, 2009) Repeat victimisation accounted for three-quarters (76%) of all incidents of domestic violence as measured by the 2009/10 BCS.[10]
  • In any one year, there are 13 million separate incidents of physical violence or threats of violence against women from partners or former partners. (Walby and Allen, 2004)[11]
  • 31% of the funding to the domestic violence and sexual abuse sector from local authorities was cut between 2010/11 and 2011/13, a reduction from £7.8 million to £5.4 million. (Walby 2011)[12]
  • According to the 2010/2011 Women’s Aid Survey, on a typical day 3410 women and 2502 children are living in refuge accommodation. However, 230 women, just fewer than 9% of those seeking refuge were turned away due to a lack of space.[13]
  • The number of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) has been reduced: in 2011, among 8 major IDVA service providers supporting 13,180 clients, 2 faced cuts of 100%, 3 cuts of 50%, 3 of 40% and 2 of 25%.[14]
  • 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence,
  • Only one in thirty rape victims can expect to see their attacker brought to justice
  • 24,000 girls are at risk of female genital mutilation.

Background Information: The OBRUK International Campaign

The debate will also enable parliamentarians to express their support for the One Billion Rising campaign, sending a strong message of support to activists not just in the UK but internationally about the priority Britain attaches to tackling violence against women and girls and the damage this does to global equality. One Billion Rising is working with campaigners across the world to call for change; for example Eve Ensler, who initiated OBR has addressed the Filipino Congress ahead of a vote on their Reproductive Health Bill while resolutions have been passed in city halls across California to recognise the importance of the issue. In being part of OBRUK, the UK Parliament has an opportunity to show solidarity with campaigners and activists around the world and so reaffirm a commitment to take women’s safety seriously; showing we understand that this is an issue that should concern us all.

  • Amongst women aged 15 to 44 , acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.
  • 28% of US Female veterans reported experiencing sexual assault during their careers[15].
  • In the late nineties in South Africa, 40% of reported rapes and attempted rapes targeted girls younger than 17 years of age. (Human Rights Watch)
  • In India, a government survey of 12,500 children and parents in 13 of 29 states found that over 53% of children between the ages of 5 and 18 have been sexually abused. Most surveyed said they knew the abuser. (Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, United Press International, April 2007)
  • In the 2004 International Violence Against Women Survey, 57% of Australian women reported having experienced violence in their lifetime, 10% in the prior 12 months.
    • In 2005, the World Health Organization Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence, the local rates in ten countries of ever-partnered women who had experienced violence from an intimate partner was:
      • 69 % Peru (province), 51% Peru (city)
      • 71% Ethiopia (province)
      • 62% Bangladesh (province), 53% Bangladesh (city)
      • 56% Tanzania (province), 41% Tanzania (city)
      • 47% Thailand (province), 41% Thailand (city)
      • 46% Samoa
      • 37% Brazil (province), 29% Brazil (city)
      • 36% Namibia (city)
      • 24% Serbia and Montenegro (city)
      • 15% Japan (city)

[1] This includes Amnesty International, the Women’s Institute, Refuge, the TUC, Unison and Imkaan


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