The government has announced the launch of two new initiatives to combat domestic violence and sexual harassment.
Commissioned by a branch of the Department for Health called Public Health England, the first of these will be run by the University of the West of England (UWE). Called the ‘Intervention Initiative’, it is an educational ‘toolkit’ for colleges and universities which aims to prevent abuse and sexual coercion within higher education.
A recent survey suggested that 37 per cent of female students experience unwanted sexual advances during their time at university, as do 12 per cent of male students. In addition, according to Public Health England, “female students have a greater than one in three chance of being sexually assaulted during their time at university”.
Dr. Rachel Fenton is a senior law lecturer at UWE and was the development lead on the initiative. She said the aim was to help students “recognise and understand sexual and domestic violence and take active steps when they witness problematic behaviour”.
A similar initiative is also to be launched by Public Health England, aimed at businesses around the country. This will consist of a step-by-step guide for employers about how they can more effectively deal with domestic violence and its impact in the workplace.
The initiative, called ‘16 Days of Action’, was developed by the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence. It will tie in with an awareness campaign of the same name which is set to run from 25 November to 10 December.
Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said it was “unacceptable that in England and Wales, two women a week die as a result of domestic violence”. He said the initiative was commissioned because “companies can do more to support their employees who experience domestic abuse”. Companies who implement the initiative could actually save money, he claimed, as there will be fewer domestic violence related absences and a lower rate of staff turnover.
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