CAMPAIGNERS in St Helens are taking part in 16 days of action that puts the "systemic issue" of violence against women and girls in the spotlight and attempt to make lasting change.

From Thursday, November 25 - Friday, December 10, people from all over the world are organising educational events and raising awareness of the dangers that women face in society such as sexual and domestic abuse.

This is happening in St Helens as campaigners, domestic violence survivors and members of the council in St Helens have planned events and talks in the region, with the Steve Prescott Bridge joining illuminated landmarks across the globe to ‘Orange the World’ and raise awareness of this devastating issue.

St Helens Star: The Steve Prescott bridge will be lit up in orange as part of the global campaignThe Steve Prescott bridge will be lit up in orange as part of the global campaign

Data shows that 62 female victims were admitted to St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals for domestic abuse in the five years to March 2020, yet data from the Home Office highlights that Merseyside Police recorded 67,511 violent domestic abuse crimes over this same period - highlighting the issue is much deeper than people often realise.

Nationally, the Office For National Statistics reported that domestic abuse offences increased during the pandemic across England and Wales, while recorded rape offences hit a record high at the same time prosecutions of the crime fell to a record low of 1.4 per cent.

The recent tragic cases of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa have only made it more clear the dangers women face while innocently walking home alone.

The 16 days of activism campaign is designed to highlight this reality, keep the issue in the national spotlight and instigate lasting change in society. 

Shana Begum, a campaigner based in St Helens, said that the system "fails victims" at present and there needs to be clear instructions and education on how to tackle the issue and improve society.

Shana, who was forced into an arranged marriage and has also fled domestic abuse, said: "Violence against women and girls is a systematic issue that needs to be addressed.

"The police have faced decades of cuts so blaming the police is not enough. We need clear education from the government on how to deal with violence and the engrained attitudes of misogyny in men and boys.

St Helens Star: The Begum family won Family of the Year at the 2019 Pride of St Helens AwardsThe Begum family won Family of the Year at the 2019 Pride of St Helens Awards

Offering solutions, Shana added: "There needs to be a specific law for misogyny that stamps this out and changes attitudes.

"With Covid, there was a seperate law to tackle the issue and a lot of money was spent to ensure everyone knew what they had to do and I believe the same procedure has to follow to deal with violence against women and girls."

Shana encourages both men and women in St Helens to get involved in the campaign and keep the issue in the national consciousness and impel the government to enact new protective laws.

Mum to an 18-year-old girl and two young boys, Shana added: "I dont want my kids to grow up in a society like this. This issue affects everyone in society so I want everyone to use their voice to change things."

On Sunday, November 28, there will be a one hour walk to support the campaign, meeting near the Ship Inn on Blackbrook Rd at 1pm.