GOOD guys, role models and lads with a bit of nous and street cred are getting togged-up to front a high-profile campaign that has been launched in Swindon to tackle violence against women.
They are donning T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “I say No to Violence Against Women – Respect not Violence” to raise awareness of a growing but often hidden or ignored problem.
A Respect initiative over the coming weeks will see postcards displayed and circulated of Swindon men from all professions, ages and cultures posing in the eye-catching crew-neck tees. It is the first campaign of its kind to target men who may commit violence against women, or be aware of such incidents, and as such the postcards will include contact details on the back enabling them to seek help, including counselling.
The Swindon campaign is a local take on a variety of ‘inspiring change’ themed initiatives that are being organised across the world during the build-up to International Women’s Day on March 8.
Swindon’s two MPs, Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson, joined a group of leading council officials, members of the media and other men who pulled their shirts on to launch the Swindon campaign at the town’s Civic Offices on Friday. Over the coming weeks it is hoped that many other men around town, including Swindon Town players, will wear and have their photographs taken in the T-shirts.
Rosa Matheson, lead member of the Swindon International Women’s Day group, said national statistics indicated one in four women experience violence. “The message of our campaign is quite simple though extremely significant – just to say no to violence against women,” she said.
Author and women’s campaigner Rosa, of Highworth, said: “We are building up a local resource that will include the comments of men who are role models and good guys with street cred on this important issue.”
A key element will be to create a series of pop-up exhibitions at clubs, pubs, schools and libraries around town showing the photos.
Rosa said they were also seeking vacant town centre premises to display Respect’s images and literature.
They further intend to set up a Facebook page featuring comments and pictures of Swindon men backing the campaign.
Rosa said domestic violence involving younger people in particular was on the rise. She hoped that by getting the message into schools they would nip potential problems in the bud.
Mother of four Rosa said: “The majority of men find violence against women as horrible as women do but they get little chance of voicing that. So this is their chance to say so.”
Organisers, who have no funding for the campaign, are seeking Swindon men to support them by wearing the T-shirts and having their photos taken in them. The shirts cost £10. Call Rosa on 01793 764979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.