Take the pledge to tackle domestic violence

Did you know that domestic violence increases during the World Cup?

Maidstone Borough Council is lending its support to the White Ribbon campaign – a global movement of men of all ages working to end male violence against women and girls.

The White Ribbon UK was founded in 2007 with an overarching mission to:

“End male violence against women, once and for all and to engage men in calling out violence, bullying behaviour amongst their peers and spreading a message of equality and respect.”

As many of us excitedly countdown the hours until the next England match, for some women it will mark the start of yet more domestic violence distinctly linked to sporting events.

Recent research has revealed that there are clear links between the football World Cup and an increase in domestic abuse rates.

The research, by Lancaster University criminologist Dr Stuart Kirby, a former police officer, monitored police reports of domestic violence during the last three World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010. It illustrated that in one particular force in England and Wales, violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won.

While domestic violence rose after each England game, incidents also increased in frequency at each new tournament, raising fears that the forthcoming competition in Russia could see the highest ever World Cup-related rises in domestic violence across the UK.*

The Community Protection team at MBC wanted to launch a borough-wide initiative and, given the overwhelming evidence, decided that this World Cup would be an ideal time to kick-start action and conversation with communities and businesses.

So far they have successfully recruited the help of a number of venues in the town centre including The Source Bar, The Brenchley, Ashes Sports Bar, Bar 6 Maidstone, The Duke of Marlborough and the Style & Winch who have all agreed to sell the White Ribbon and promote the cause.

On Saturday 30 June in Jubilee Square from 10am – 2pm, MBC will be joined by a number of other key agencies including Kent County Council Early Help, Kent Police, Centra and local domestic abuse charity Choices, to help spread the word and talk about the key issues that surround domestic violence.

The event will also feature a creative performance artist (BLCKtides) from the company do.your.bit, who will invite people to share their views and feelings about domestic abuse by drawing on a car. This visual representation of Maidstone’s collective pledge against domestic violence will then be driven around the borough during the World Cup to communicate the message wider.

Cllr Matt Burton who is one of Maidstone Borough Council’s key ambassadors for the campaign said: “I am really pleased that as a council we are taking an active stance on this subject. Too many women suffer on a daily basis and to know that even more women will be subjected to this type of abuse during something that should be so positive, like the World Cup, is just wrong.

“The event on Saturday is all about encouraging more men of all ages to come together and collectively agree to swear the white ribbon pledge, wear the badge and share the message.By wearing the ribbon you are clearly stating that you will never condone, take part in or remain silent about domestic abuse against women.

“It is time that we worked together to stop violence, irrespective of gender, and by initiating these conversations and helping to point people who need our support in the right direction, we can start to make a real difference.”

All money raised throughout the total campaign from the sale of white ribbons and other donations is being given to the local charity Choices, based in Maidstone, to continue the work they do to support victims of domestic abuse.

*Separate national research examining the 2010 World Cup echoed the Kirby findings – with domestic abuse reports up 27.7% when the England team won a game, and 31.5% when they lost.

Source: The Guardian June 14, 2014.

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