Sarah Everard’s death prompts men to join groups trying to end male violence | Voluntary sector

The murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa could mark a turning point in men’s accountability for male violence against women and girls, experts have said.

Male-led groups working to end violence against women have seen renewed interest from other men, but organizers say if the momentum is not harnessed, the opportunity will be lost.

Beyond equality, 150 men came forward within two weeks of Everard’s death, asking to volunteer for the charity. Previously, the average was two men per week. The renewed interest continued: more than 80 schools booked workshops with the group last week, compared to an average of three requests per week previously.

“It is a sign of the necessity of our work that it takes not only the death of two women at the hands of men – because women are being killed by men all the time – but the wall-to-wall coverage that these two murders received. , for men to contact us with these numbers, ”said Dr Daniel Guinness, Managing Director of Beyond Equality.

But whatever the motivation, Guinness said a growing number of men are realizing that protecting women isn’t just about being a good person themselves. “All men are responsible for the violence,” Guinness said.

“I have never met a man who has not tolerated a dialogue by joking or remaining silent when misogynistic or sexist comments have been made. But by not challenging those attitudes you are giving your tacit approval to the misogynist making the comments, which leads to the normalization of those attitudes, which ultimately leads to the abuse of women, ”he said. “It’s a continuum.

Michael Conroy, the founder of the Men at Work community group, agreed. “I might be a good guy who would never hurt a woman, but it’s not about me: it’s about men, plural,” he said.

Conroy, who also said his company had received a lot more work since the Everard and Nessa murders, pointed to Philip Allott, North Yorkshire Police Commissioner, who said Everard “would never have had to submit “to the arrest of his murderer. “All the men are up to their necks in one way or another, so it’s up to all the men to actively work to dismantle it,” he said.

Davy Thompson, campaign manager for the White Ribbon Scotland charity, said. “A lot of men realize that they shouldn’t be walking behind a woman late at night because it scares her,” he said. “But it’s not enough to change course: men need to change the atmosphere where the mere fact of being a man near a woman at night is a source of fear for her.

“It starts with men crushing social spaces in which sexist men feel their misogyny is tolerated until these men find themselves without spaces in which they feel their attitudes are normal,” he said. .

The organization What can I do? was created by musician Mark Hegarty following the murders. “I’m just a normal guy who thought this problem didn’t affect me. But then I started talking to the women around me and realized that male violence affected every one of them, ”said Hegarty, who co-founded the group with Gauri Taylor-Nayar, an anti-gender activist. domestic violence.

“This is a really pivotal time,” said Dr Stephen Burrell, director of White Ribbon UK, who was contacted by consultancy firm Wunderman Thompson after the Everard murder to advise on a nationwide advertising campaign to encourage all men to take responsibility for male violence against women.

But this “radical change” could fade if it is not exploited, he warned. “For real and meaningful change, we need to see a lot more action from governments and other organizations, including police, schools, universities and workplaces.”

The Engage group will be holding what it says is the first pro-feminist male-led international online conference in November. Although the event was held before the murders, organizers said that men’s interest in the event has grown significantly since then.

But Chris Green, the founder of Engage, said that while the increased interest was good, it wasn’t enough. “We are still very far from engaging men in a massive way,” he said.

Green is concerned about what he said are powerful forces working to reverse the progress made by anti-violence groups, including the ‘massive mass’ of online pornography and the continued failure of four UK parliaments and three British prime ministers to ratify the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty protecting women’s rights which is already law in 21 European countries.

Darshan Sanghrajka, co-founder of the Being ManKind project, said he was concerned that the increase in misogyny online could reverse the gains made. “Over the past two years, the internet has become increasingly toxic,” he said, pointing to Facebook’s own researchers who found that 64% of all extremist “group memberships” were due to its recommendation tools.

“Algorithms quickly suck you into an echo chamber where groups are more and more extreme,” he said. “You find yourself in an alternate reality where your feelings of being looked down upon by women can easily be manipulated into a determination to take revenge on them.”

However, James McCann, co-founder of the Feminist Men Project, said the men had no choice but to continue. “It can be easy to get overwhelmed, but we are fighting for change because we have to. We must strive for a better quality of life for everyone, always. “

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