Durham Women Rising campaign to end violence

Durham Women Rising campaign aims to eliminate violence against women and girls in County Durham

Betty Smildzina from 'It Happens Here' at the 'Violence against Women and Girls Strategy' launch at Durham University
Betty Smildzina from 'It Happens Here' at the 'Violence against Women and Girls Strategy' launch at Durham University

A university has launched an awareness campaign in a bid to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Durham Women Rising, based on the global One Billion Rising project, was officially launched at Durham University yesterday and aims to empower women and girls in the county through creative endeavours, support work and campaigning.

The event was hosted by Professor Nicole Westmarland, who co-founded and co-directs the university’s Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse.

She said: “Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse are pleased to see and be part of such energy and commitment to eliminating violence against women in County Durham.”

Durham Women Rising says violence against women has reached epidemic levels, with one in three women in the world statistically to experience some form of violence in her lifetime, and one in four in the UK to experience domestic abuse.

There have also been 10 domestic homicides recorded in County Durham since 2011.

It comes as police and crime commissioners from the region launch the joint Strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls, with a key pledge to address the ways in which our culture could be enabling gender-based violence.

Sue Robson, co-ordinator of the North East Women’s Network, said: “North East Women’s Network is extremely encouraged by the launch of Durham Women Rising, particularly as it coincides with the launch of the police and crime commissioners Strategy.

“We are looking forward to working collectively with Durham Women Rising and other groups of women in the North East to end all forms of violence against women and girls – together we are stronger.” Lynne Hinde, chief executive of Rape Crisis Darlington and Co Durham, added: “Durham Women Rising is an opportunity to bring together the many diverse and inspirational women and communities of women living in County Durham to work together and raise awareness of the many issues that affect or impact on women, not least is the issue in bringing about an end to all forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls.

“That this launch should coincide with the launch of the PCC strategy, on tackling violence against women and girls, is therefore very pertinent.” Elizabete Smildzia, Durham University student, and a campaigner on campus, said: “We look forward to the new police strategy to more pertinently address the issue of violence against women and hope to be an important part of future efforts to combat sexual violence on a grander scale.”

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