This is my speech in support of Motion on Ending Misogyny and Violence Against Women and Girls at Council meeting on 31 March 2021, Manchester City Council.
Thank you to every woman who’s shared her story and spoken up today, and yesterday, and the day before and those who’ve been speaking every day for decades.
I’d planned to use my platform today to individually name & thank the groups, organisations, women that work and campaign tirelessly day in, day out to end VAWG, even when noone is listening, and to support women.
We see you. And we will do all we can to fight for proper resourcing, so no women need be turned away without help or a safe place to sleep, to include specialist services and support, for migrant women, families, and those without recourse
I feel your anger and exhaustion.
And that is why instead my message today is to the govt. Because frankly, without govt action our anger and exhaustion is going to continue.
And what have the government done?
– Well they’ve starved much needed services with 10 years of cuts after cuts;
– They’ve trapped women in violent relationships, denying them refuge, recourse to public funds, and access to support;
– And now they seek to silence us and take away our rights to protest with the Police & Crime Bill;
– Defended the higher punishment for damage to statues than for sexual assault on women, on the basis statues have a ‘high emotional value’ – Whilst continuing to demonstrate their own misogyny in the house, in the Mother of all Parliaments as they belittle and patronise women calling for change
– When Labour MP Jo Stevens, asked, 2 weeks ago, why sentencing for attacking a statue is higher than raping a woman, the Conservative MP Oliver Dowden, responded by expressing his wish that she take a more ‘temperate approach’. And when Labour MP Ellie Reeves, asked the Attorney General, Conservative MP Michael Ellis….. If he grasps the scale of the situation, pointing out that the Govt’s promised rape review is now 2 yrs late, the AG said he didn’t appreciate her use of ‘emotive language’
So, whilst I’m not in the habit of writing poems to Tory ministers, this is for you.
I want you to listen, to really listen These streets aren’t ours It’s best to skip from side to side Dodge dark corners where men can hide Keep your keys in your hand Be ready to run on demand Do you understand? These streets aren’t ours Lock car doors, stay inside If men come close, pick your nose, my mum advised! Just ignore the whistles and the beeps Until you’re safely home, Noone sleeps Do you understand? These streets aren’t ours Keep your walk brisk Don’t take any risk Don’t go out alone Keep talking on the phone Call me when you’re home Call me when you’re home I listened, We listened, and we understood. Still Sarah and many others, never make it home And we each have our personal testimonies To all the women and girls reading Please know We see you, we hear you, we believe you and you are not alone And to all the men reading No, not all men are bad But, yes all men have a role to play To change the culture, the systems The structures, the power imbalance and the masculine toxicity Which perpetuate male violence against women and girls in our City Every. Single. Day We see you. We know you. We ask that you stand with us. All Misogyny is hate Not to be downplayed, it’s not just banter, mate Those comments and leers, They all breed fear And No, I won’t ‘calm down dear’ Because these streets are ours Whatever the hour Ours to jog, march and play Any time of the night or day These streets are ours Whatever we wear In heels, pumps or boots Whatever our roots And when hate showers down, we refuse to stand by When others wrong, we stand strong Because this is Manchester And these, streets, parks, public spaces are where we belong Please know. We will Rise, We will Roar, We will Represent Until we are all safe, each and every one of the 51%