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Campaign for Statutory Sex and Relationships Education

Young people today are subjected to pressures in schools that many of us could barely imagine. From sexting to widespread access to porn – the school environment has changed. But education has not changed with it.

As a result of this disparity between the real world and the ways in which we are failing to equip our children and young people, Laura Bates (founder of the Everyday Sexism Project) and Sarah Green and Rachel Krys (Co-Directors of the End Violence Against Women Coalition) have launched a petition on Change.org asking for sex and relationships education (SRE) to be made compulsory in all schools.

Equation have long since championed age-appropriate sex and relationships education for children and young people. Our award-winning educational programmes have already made a huge impact on thousands of children and young people across Nottinghamshire. But we know that this is a basic right that ALL children should be entitled to, and that the alarming statistics around teenage sexual abuse and rape will not change without it. 

Young people are bombarded with confusing and often misogynistic messages from the world around them. Shockingly, 60% have seen online porn by the age of 14. Teenage girls are getting pressured into having sex, and a recent BBC Freedom of Information request revealed that 5,500 sexual offences, including 600 rapes, were reported to police as having taken place in schools over a 3-year period. That’s almost exactly one rape per school day.

Sex and relationships education is as important as any other subject, as this video shows:

#SREnow
#SREnow

It is vital that our schools equip young people with the skills they need to understand consent, healthy relationships, LGBT rights and relationships, gender stereotypes and online pornography.

You can sign the petition here.

Or join the conversation online using the hashtag #SREnow.

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Russia Softens Domestic Abuse Law

It is no secret that the Russian government has a major task in eradicating domestic abuse, with the latest statistics showing that 49,579 crimes involving violence in the family were committed in Russia in 2015. With the vast majority of victims being women and an unknown number of offences going unreported it is time that legislators focused on how to give protection to those who are vulnerable.

Instead, Russian MPs this week backed a law reducing the penalties for those convicted of inflicting violence on family members, decriminalising some offences. These changes mean the authorities will be unable (and unwilling) to protect the powerless or break the vicious circle of abuse within the home. Abused children will continue to grow up being more likely to become abusers or victims themselves.

Breaking these cycles takes resources and painstaking work and lawmakers need to support such efforts that can lead to social progress as, for example, they did earlier this month in France, when beating children was outlawed. Unfortunately, the current tendency of lawmaking in Russia is to support the archaic thinking of much of the population.

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The amendments in Russia are already being interpreted by opponents and supporters alike as giving official permission for violence. First offences that do not result in serious injuries will now be punished by a fine. Since such payments, of up to 30,000 rubles (£400), will obviously be taken out of family budgets, in themselves these fines could become a disincentive to complain.

Making victims responsible for gathering their own evidence is another new outcome that has been equally misconceived. Who will do this if the victim is a child? A frightened or an abusive mother? Neighbours who called the police when they heard screams?

But the biggest mistake is that only a second offence will truly be considered a crime, supposedly to create parity with the way that violence between strangers outside the home is dealt with. Yet this fails to realise that victims of domestic violence, and especially children, are uniquely vulnerable because they lack the opportunity to escape.

Their abusers are not strangers, and are usually the people who should protect and care for them. As a consequence, the psychological and long-term consequences of the same physical injuries are far more severe. It is this continual cycle of inflicting both emotional and physical trauma that Russia seems incapable, or unwilling to address.

At Equation we are committed to putting an end to domestic violence and abuse. If you feel motivated by our cause, don’t forget you can get involved with our work by getting in touch or joining our community on Facebook and Twitter.

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Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week

The sexual abuse and sexual violence awareness week takes place this year from 6th-12th February and we at Equation are fully behind the cause. The week was established to give an opportunity for the general public, statutory and third sector organisations to participate in a discussion about sexual abuse and sexual violence.

The need for the designated period is due to a lack of dialogue on the subject. During the week people raise awareness about sexual abuse and sexual violence and how to prevent it in the UK through putting on events and making sure the subject is talked about on social media. You can find ideas and resources for participating in the discussion too.

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Domestic abuse

Sexual abuse can often go hand in hand with domestic abuse – an issue we are fighting every day in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. To put this into a national perspective, 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17s and 24% of 18-24s have been exposed to domestic abuse between adults in their homes during childhood (Source: NSPCC).

While not all of these cases will have involved an element of sexual abuse or violence, there is a definite link between the two as being forced into sexual acts is a key method of controlling or coercive behaviour that can occur in a domestic setting. Our concern is that if there is no discourse concerning these issues they will persist in negatively affecting households across the country.

Local services and support

There are a number of organisations working to support those who have experienced sexual abuse and violence in the local area, such as Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis Centre and the Topaz Centre. If you are experiencing domestic abuse or violence there is help available here.

You can also find help on the dedicated page for the sexual abuse and sexual violence week with a variety of different avenues for those in need.

Get involved

There are countless events happening across the UK to mark #itsnotok2017 week and you can find an interactive map so you can see what’s happening near you. New events will be added as they are announced and you can find loads of ways to get involved yourself.

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You can join the conversation on social media using #itsnotok and follow @itsnotok2017. You can even add a Facebook cover and Twitter banner to your profile to show your support. You can go to a local event and meet like minded people. Or how about organising your own event? Check out suggestions for events or read about past events for inspiration.

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Stalking Sentences

The Ministry of Justice have announced this month that the sentence for stalking is to be doubled to 10 years.

The decision to increase punishments for stalking follows cross-party political pressure in parliament. Two Conservative backbenchers, Alex Chalk and Richard Graham, introduced a private member’s bill last year calling for the limit to be doubled.

Their initiative was adopted by the Labour peer Janet Royall in the House of Lords where it was passed by a majority last month. Ministers have been in discussion since then with MPs and peers.

In 2015, a total of 194 people were convicted of stalking offences and 835 were convicted of the related offence of putting people in fear of violence.  Early release rules require that in practice a five-year maximum means that a stalker who pleads guilty for the worst imaginable offence will serve just 18-20 months.The average custodial sentence for stalking was 14.1 months. That’s insufficient time for meaningful psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation – it’s also insufficient time to allow victims to feel truly safe.

The new sentencing rules have been widely welcomed.

 

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Child First: Emergency Review

The justice secretary, Liz Truss, has set up an emergency review to discover the quickest way to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse from directly cross-examining their victims within the family court system. The family courts currently lag behind the criminal courts where such practice is outlawed.

A senior Ministry of Justice source said: “This is a matter we are extremely concerned about and looking at as a matter of urgency.”

Research by the all-party parliamentary group on domestic violence found that 55% of women had no access to special measures in the family courts, where 70% of separation and child contact cases involve some form of domestic violence.

Women’s Aid have been campaigning on this issue for some time, and you can read their CEO, Polly Neate’s response to the review here. The Women’s Aid petition and campaign is still running. They are calling on the Government, all family courts professionals, and involved agencies to make the family court process safer for women and children survivors of domestic abuse. You can sign their petition here or use the hashtag #childfirst on social media to raise awareness.

 

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​Coercive or Controlling Behaviour Offence

Domestic abuse can take many forms, and is rarely purely violent. Many people experience psychological, emotional or financial abuse; controlling behaviours that were not protected by any specific legislation until December 2015.

The coercive or controlling behaviour offence changed that, as police forces were given the power to protect those subjected to threats, humiliation and intimidation, often leading to total control of their lives. In isolation, these incidents were often seen as insignificant but, to the person experiencing them, they can mean the gradual loss of confidence, freedom, friends and family.

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Nationally, there has been a positive response to these new powers, with forces taking this legislation and applying it to a wide set of circumstances to protect people and bring perpetrators to justice. The convictions to date are diverse in their nature, with a marked increase in standalone coercive control offences as well as individual cases forming part of a catalogue of offences.

In Nottinghamshire, a man who used intimidation and violence to control every aspect of his partner’s life was jailed for four and a half years. He admitted using coercive and controlling behaviour, along with two charges of causing actual bodily harm, harassment with violence and two charges of criminal damage.

The court also imposed a restraining order ‐ banning him from making contact with the victim or her family for life. His ex partner bravely attended court to watch his sentencing and describe the effect he had on her life.

In a statement in court, she said: “He controlled every aspect of my life; from where I went, to what I wore, to what possessions he allowed me to own. I wasn’t a person, but an object to him. He undermined any confidence that I had to move away from him, and told me that he knew how to manipulate the legal system and police into not being caught.”

The coercive or controlling behaviour offence is in place to give those people experiencing this type of abuse the confidence to come forward and start to take back control from those who seek to intimidate and isolate them. Such acts can destroy careers, life prospects, affect their children and loved ones and vital support networks. When people try to break free from suffocating control they often face great risk.

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It is encouraging that after just over a year there have already been some significant sentences to date, the longest being four and a half years followed by a number of sentences for four years. The maximum sentence for this offence is five years.

There is hope that others in similar situations are now provided with the strength and confidence to talk to us and stop the abuse. If you have experienced any type of domestic abuse, or think it may be happening to someone else, call your local police on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.

If you feel motivated by our cause, don’t forget you can get involved with our work to combat gender-based violence by getting in touch or joining our community on Facebook and Twitter.

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Opportunities to Get Involved with Equation’s Mission

Fundraising

At Equation, a large part of our work can only be completed thanks to the charitable donations provided at fundraising events. Fortunately, we have found that there are plenty of generous people willing to support our work against domestic violence and abuse in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, who discover the rewards of aiding such a just cause.

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We have lots more featured events organised for 2017, so you can get planning and raise money for Equation. Of course, you can help us by joining our team in a local challenge event, get sponsored for an event you’re already doing, or organise your own thing, using our ideas purely as inspiration.

Think marathon, fun run, bake sale – they’re all valid and worthwhile endeavours that will not only get you active and creative in your spare time but also ensure we can continue to carry out our work against domestic abuse.

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There are tons of other ways you can fundraise for Equation, with ideas in our fundraising information pack on our website, which provides details of what your money could support and advice on how to raise sponsorship. You can also set up a page on Just Giving or download our sponsorship form to collect donations.

Volunteering

Volunteering with Equation is an amazing way of connecting with our passionate team of people united against domestic abuse. As well as fundraising and campaigning, there are lots of ways you can get involved.

Currently there are a number of roles we are seeking to fill, such as: Fundraising Administrator, Marketing Trustee, Fundraising Trustee, Volunteer Administrator, Fundraising Events Committee Member, and Fundraising Events Supporter.

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The requirements are simple – are you passionate about tackling domestic abuse and helping us raise awareness and funds for the work that Equation is providing? Do you want to gain excellent experience in a local charity?

We are looking for the most committed individuals to join our busy fundraising team and help assist our supporters. We are looking for regular volunteers to work with the admin team, to carry out a range of vital tasks supporting our work against domestic abuse. You can also join our hard-working board of trustees, to increase and enhance the charity’s reputation.

If you want to support Equation at exciting events, then come to our volunteer information evening for Events Volunteers on Tuesday, 24th January at 6pm. Contact samantha@equation.org.uk for more information.

If you feel motivated by our cause, don’t forget you can get involved with our work to combat gender-based violence by getting in touch or joining our community on Facebook and Twitter.

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We’re On the Lookout for a Corporate Fundraiser

Equation, the domestic abuse prevention charity, has an exciting opportunity to join our fundraising team as a Corporate Fundraiser.

The Corporate Fundraiser will join the existing fundraising team to grow and develop their corporate income stream. You should have a proven background and demonstrable track record in securing corporate partnerships. With the focus on building relationships to raise funds and awareness for Equation, you should have an ability to build long-term relationships that will benefit the business.

Through networking and researching you will be able to identify corporates who will be interested in Equation’s cause and approach them in the most appropriate way. You will work strategically to attract and secure new corporate partnerships, delivering income targets through activities including sponsorship, corporate donations, cause-related marketing, staff engagement and fundraising. You will also be working with the training department to increase Equation’s training income by making contact with private and public organisations who will benefit from Equation’s training portfolio.

This role will play a significant part in contributing to the fundraising team and enable Equation to deliver more of our essential work. You will work closely with the Head of Fundraising and the wider Equation team.

This role will suit someone who is looking to gain experience and knowledge in the charity sector. While business development skills are essential, experience within the charity sector is not. This is an excellent opportunity to make a transition if you are interested in working for a local charity.

Equation offers a generous 26-days’ holiday allowance plus bank holidays (pro rata), gives employees flexibility on working times, and commits to continuing professional development of its staff through a variety of training opportunities. We are a small, positive and efficient team which will number 18 at the start of the contract.

Job details

Working hours: 22.5 hours per week

Working term: Fixed Term for one year – may be extended subject to successful fundraising

Salary: NJC Scale 5, Spinal Column Pt 22-25, £20, 263 – £22, 212 (pro rata)

How to apply

Please read the job description and person specification before completing the application form.

Job description

Person specification

Application form

The deadline for applications is 12 midday, Monday 23rd January 2017. 

Candidates will be contacted by phone in the first instance. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview, to be held on Friday 27th January 2017.

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Equation: Support for Professionals

At Equation, we are dedicated to eradicating all forms of domestic abuse and gender-based violence. In order to do this, a large part of our work involves engaging with the professional network of people working with people experiencing abuse, and those researching preventative measures.

 

Training

Our training services for professionals offer a range of techniques and insights for community workers, volunteers, and frontline professionals. We run a number of courses designed to aid the understanding of and response to domestic violence, for those working with both survivors and perpetrators.

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Our bespoke, specialist, and in-house training programs are additional tailored courses we can create with your organisation in mind to suit your needs. In the past we have worked with Nottinghamshire Police, the Prison Service, City and County Safeguarding teams, Pupil Referral Units, and the East Midlands Ambulance Service. The format of the training ranges from delivering brief intensive workshops to large-scale seminars.

 

Best Practice Library

If you have contact with people experiencing domestic or sexual abuse as part of your job, you can find practical guidance in our best practice library. With a wide range of materials including local services that can be of help, you can find access to information about domestic abuse and the best ways to respond to people experiencing it.

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There are also a number of documents containing relevant research to add to your knowledge, discussing issues such as the public perceptions of domestic abuse and other key documents relating to our procedures, such as the strategies and policies that are considered best practice when arranging an intervention or support.

 

Resources

We also support specialists with our wealth of resources, ranging from information on maintaining safety for those who may be at risk, to helping others move forwards after suffering domestic abuse. We also promote healthy relationships with guides for children and young people on how best to navigate sex and relationships.

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You can visit our page for professionals here and get working and researching for the benefit of your own organisation straight away. Alternatively, if you feel motivated by our cause, you can get involved with our work to combat gender-based violence by getting in touch or joining our community on Facebook and Twitter.

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Inspirational Women: Helen Brook

The winners of the 2016 Woman’s Hour Power List were revealed last week, celebrating seven women who’ve had the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past seven decades. In second place, behind Margaret Thatcher, was a woman we think deserves more recognition for her relatively unknown achievements.

Lady Helen Brook played a vital role in advancing women’s rights during the 1960s and 70s, by opening up her own clinic in London for women who did not want to give birth to unwanted children. You can listen to the Radio 4 clip here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04l8t6p.

The Brook Advisory Clinic was seen as scandalous by the majority of the general public in 1964 when it opened, but the effect it had on women’s ability to have control over their own lives in England is near incomparable.

Brook initially worked as a volunteer for the Family Planning Association, where she argued that contraception should be readily available to women who were not married. Her introduction of contraception services soon after the pill became a safe and accessible alternative in England, opened up a new world for women.

It was her fervent belief that children should only be born to mothers who wanted them and could care for them. She was also somewhat ahead of her time in the hope that women should enjoy equality with men and that to achieve this they needed to be able to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

There were inevitably obstacles at the beginning, however, such as being forced to hold evening sessions each week for the large numbers of unmarried women turned away from other clinics with only the support of a few clinic doctors and a nurse. In 1963, she began ‘secret’ sessions aimed specifically at young people.

When, at the end of that year, a storm of publicity broke, she was advised to set up her own clinic and that is when her clinic for young, unmarried women and men opened its doors in London.

One of the most important changes she enacted was for women to abandon so-called backstreet abortionists, who were notoriously unsafe and unhygienic but had previously been the only alternative for women scared of how to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

Helen Brook | brook.org.uk
Helen Brook | source: www.brook.org.uk

What followed in the years after, with more women having access to more jobs and employment opportunities, was a direct consequence of the power she gave back to women in the form of controlling their own lives, and deciding when they wanted to give birth. Without her impact the radical changes that were made may never have happened or taken much longer to come into force.

If you have been inspired by this story, you can learn more about Helen Brook on the official website, or get involved with our work to combat gender-based violence by getting in touch or joining our community on Facebook and Twitter.

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