“During a recent tour of South Africa, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, shone a welcome light on the issue of gender-based violence, saying the country was in a “crisis state” following a series of attacks. The country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has been quoted as saying the issue of violence against women and girls is equivalent to war in terms of the human devastation it causes, and has declared a national state of emergency in relation to it. 

Indeed, gender-based violence is a crisis that extends beyond national boundaries, beyond socio-cultural boundaries, affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and economic backgrounds. It is a world-wide issue; one that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly highlighted as a “global crisis”. 

A flurry of media attention has recently awoken a mass consciousness of the issue, not only in South Africa – you only have to look to the recent coverage on the shocking rates of femicide (murders of women by their partners or ex-partners) in France and protests about the ‘feminist emergency’ in Spain following a spate of killings of women by their partners. In the UK, two women are killed each week by a partner or ex-partner. 

This is not a new phenomenon, but of course the growing awareness is a catalyst for action which must be capitalised on. All countries, all societies need to work to eradicate this shameful, yet not inevitable, epidemic. 

In the UK, two women are killed each week by a partner or ex-partner.” 

Roslyn Cumming 

Global organisations are flying the flag for gender equality, the means through which such violence can be stopped. At a conference earlier this year many of them came together to pledge funding to tackle gender-based violence, where UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore called for a “more central role for local women’s organizations”, and new innovations to “end this epidemic”. 

The series of ‘women in power’ events at the September 2019 UN General Assembly shared challenges and good practice to be adopted by world leaders to ensure Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG5 – Gender Equality – can be achieved. In the UK, the Labour MP Rosie Duffield brought others in the House of Commons to tears just this week, with her moving personal account of domestic abuse, as she highlighted the many forms it can take, and the diversity of those who perpetrate and survive it, whilst welcoming the Government’s domestic abuse bill, which for the first time explicitly acknowledge non-physical forms of abuse such as coercive control and economic abuse. 

Through our research at the None in Three Centre, we are developing and testing innovative ways to help tackle this problem. We take our name from the global statistic that one in three women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Our approach is one of prevention through education. 

By engaging young people as adolescents, when attitudes and opinions are forming, we believe the experience of playing our immersive, pro-social computer games, themed around issues of gender-based violence, will help to build empathy with victims, and to prevent future violence. Indeed, our previous work has proved the model to be effective in ensuring sustained positive impact on the young players of our pilot game. 

New games, funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund and the University of Huddersfield, are currently in development for young people in Uganda, Jamaica, India and the UK. We stand with survivors of gender-based violence, and welcome the high profile support from individuals like Meghan, as well as all those organisations already working hard to support victims and to prevent future violence.” 

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