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Sexual violence and the policy landscape

Thank you so much for attending the VAWGRN webinar on “Sexual Violence and the Policy Landscape”. The recording of the session is available here.

During the session, a number of resources were cited:

  • Lorna highlighted Sara Ahmed’s new book Complaint! about institutional power and sexual harassment complaints – find out more here
  • Eithne discussed the Northern Ireland Court Observer Scheme – you can see their report here
  • Lo discussed the Good Night Out campaign’s guidance on gender neutral toilets, which you can find here

You can also see more about each of our speakers at the following pages:

The charities/crowdfunders the panellists chose to support are listed below if you’d like to find out more about them or make further donations:


The panel has kindly put together some responses to some of the questions from attendees:

1.       Are there any similar studies (on sexual misconduct) in the police and military?

·         Becca: I don’t know of any similar studies that have compared policy and training strategy within the police force or military, however the military has allowed a great deal of sexual violence research to happen within it’s organisation – so it’s possible it’s out there, just not within my field of speciality. 

·         The Veterans & Families Institute are also doing some work on reporting sexual misconduct in the UK military at the moment.

2.       What was the most surprising thing that Becca found?

·         Becca: I would say the most surprising discovery in this part of my research was finding references to institutional betrayal in actual university policy. I didn’t think that would be something I’d find!

3.       Did Becca see any differences with universities that had specific sexual violence liaison services in place, in terms of the having holistic and preventative approaches?

·         Becca: In general, the universities that did train specific sexual violence specialists had more holistic approaches and had some sort of sexual violence procedure – however, there were a few universities that didn’t have as well-rounded of approaches (for example, no specific policy or training) that did have a sexual violence liaison. So it really depended on the university. 

4.       What would you advise for educating members of the CJS or community regarding consent and consent myths?

·         Eithne: There is review of CJS training and public education campaigns in the 2019 Gillen Review (a beast of a document, but with clearly delineated chapters!)

5.       Given that equality legislation protects both sex and gender identity, shouldn’t we advocate for gender-neutral spaces alongside (rather than instead of) single sex spaces?

·         Lo: Where there is capacity for three different toilets spaces, having women, men and gender neutral toilets is an option of course, but this is rarely the case in the context of nightlife venues (of often elsewhere), which is the audience of the Good Night Out Campaign and galop toolkit. Therefore, prioritising is gender neutral toilets, which are already not uncommon in nightlife and other setting, enables people of all genders and gender expressions a toilet without disadvantaging trans people and gender non-conforming cis people, as well as people with intersex variations, whose presence is also sometimes policed in gender-segregated toilets.  

·         Protections again sex discrimination in the Equality Act 2010 do not allow for the exclusion of trans women from women’s toilets, or other women-only spaces, unless there is ‘a proportionate means to a legitimate aim’. There is a more detailed discussion of the legal context in this article by Prof Alex Sharpe: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1468-2230.12507 


In the meantime:

  • If you have any other resources you’d like to share please send them in, we can also put them up or links to them on the VAWGRN website on the resources page.
  • VAWG Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network. We have lots of exciting plans for the ECR network that are centred upon supporting ECRs in their research journeys. This includes virtual networking events, a dedicated VAWGRN mentor/mentee scheme, an ECR network directory, workshops, and more! Make sure you’re signed up to the ECR mailing list if you’d like to join us and keep informed of ECR events- You can sign up for the ECR mailing list via https://vawgnetwork.mdx.ac.uk/join-the-network/  or via the sign-up link in our VAWGRN monthly newsletter.
  • Finally if you haven’t already got tickets for the other webinars you can book them via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/violence-against-women-and-girls-research-network-29505660899