The Safer Somerset Partnership’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been working with students across Somerset to raise awareness about violence against women and girls (VAWG) ahead of International Women’s Day (8th March).

Violence Against Women and Girls includes stalking, sexual offences, domestic abuse and female genital mutilation (FGM).

The Partnership - which includes Somerset County Council, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the NHS - have been working with media experts Collaborate Digital to deliver interactive media workshops to schools across Somerset.

Students were asked to imagine they were influential podcasters, using their knowledge and influence to produce a short podcast to spread a community safety message to their peers, friends and family. To check them out, visit the Collaborate Digital website.

Cllr Adam Dance, Executive Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity said:  “We’re committed to ensuring women and girls in Somerset feel safe and are safe, and we continue to work closely with Avon & Somerset Police to tackle the issues that matter to our residents. 

"Whilst this kind of behaviour can affect anyone, In the UK, as elsewhere in the world, men and boys are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual harassment in public places. 

"These workshops by Collaborate Digital enable our young people to learn more about how our behaviours affect others, and help us to encourage family, friends and peers to step up, speak up and challenge an unacceptable behaviour.”

Kim Pritchard, Head of Pastoral and School Engagement, Richard Huish College, Taunton said: “It's been brilliant.  It's been really, really good.  It's great to have someone in talking to the students about violence against women and girls and raising awareness. 

"One of the boys I spoke to said that he enjoyed it and it was a good reminder of how we should behave and what he can do to help and support. Having somebody else come in and talk to our students, who's got the knowledge and the expertise to actually talk about it in a really sensitive but really impactful way is brilliant.” 

When surveyed, nearly one in three of the young men in the UK had made sexually harassing comments to a woman or girl they didn’t know in a public place—such as the street, their workplace, their school or university, or an online space.

However, it is understood that most perpetrators at times are unaware that their behaviour is unacceptable and has made a woman or girl uncomfortable or they are not ready to acknowledge that they are a perpetrator of sexual violence in society.

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