The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2023, is “Unite”.

To mark the start of 16 Days of Activism, on 25 November a group of local women came together to remember women who have been killed by men in the past year. The Counting Dead Women Vigil will take place at Smithfield Way, outside the Post Office next to the West Orchards shopping centre and a pair of shoes was displayed to commemorate each dead woman, with their names being read out hourly.

Coventry Mothers’ Union will be encouraging places of worship within the Diocese of Coventry to display a Red Chair in a public place. This empty chair, alongside information about domestic abuse and violence against women, is intended to act as a powerful symbol of the many women who have been killed through gender-based violence. This year, the aim is to raise awareness in members and others, by dispelling myths, showing where to signpost a victim and how to respond appropriately to a disclosure of domestic abuse in the ‘The Rise Up Against Domestic Abuse Challenge’. There will also be a “Souls of our Shoes” exhibition in a number of churches during the 16 days, where actual pairs of shoes are accompanied by quotes from those who have walked away from abuse, and those who journey with them.

This year Coventry City Football Club (CCFC) are getting behind the campaign and will join us in shining a spotlight on domestic abuse and sending a clear message to never use, excuse, or remain silent about men’s violence against women. On 8th December the club will take on rivals Birmingham City for a Sky Bet Championship fixture place at The Coventry Building Society Arena and will be showing support on match score screens during half-time. Players will also wear warm-up shirts with the Coventry domestic abuse helpline, Safe To Talk details on, as well as game shirts with a white ribbon, and staff will wear Safe to Talk white armbands.

Spanning 16 days, Coventry City Council will be identifying a different theme each day to explore the various forms of Violence against Women and Girls. You will see the messages on both the Coventry City Council Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Coventry City Council will also be raising awareness of the help and support that is available locally and nationally. Local domestic abuse provisions in Coventry, includes Coventry Haven, Valley House, Panahghar and Relate. There is also a programme to jointly support children affected by domestic abuse using a counselling service and their non-abusing parent to help re-establish parental relationships; and an 18-week perpetrator programme, called Choose2Change, to try and stop further abuse in the future.

This is all part of a citywide domestic abuse strategy running from 2018 to 2025, which was set out to tackle the ongoing crime. This has influenced the way the commissioned services have been brought together and also focuses on preventing honour-based violence and forced marriage.

Cllr Pervez Akhtar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, said supporting victims and preventing domestic abuse in all its forms is a priority for the city: “We are very conscious of the reality of the impact that domestic abuse has on its victims and their families and the 16 Days of Action campaign is a great reminder of the clear strategy in place for Coventry, which aims to improve the response from all agencies to incidents of domestic abuse and remove barriers which prevent some communities from seeking help.  

 “It is estimated that the annual cost of domestic abuse collectively for Coventry is around £35m. The pandemic has made already challenging times, extra difficult for those living domestic abuse and we will continue to work with partner agencies to manage and address domestic abuse in a sensitive and supportive way. This includes providing support to those groups currently under-represented and most vulnerable – like older people, men, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, as well as the LGBT+ community.” 

“The Safe to Talk website enables easy access to help and support either as members of the public or professionals who may wish to refer individuals. 

 “All of us need to be vigilant. We need to help understand domestic abuse in all its forms and support victims to bring these crimes out into the open.”  

Elaine Yates, CEO for Coventry Haven Women’s Aid said: “Coventry Haven WA recognise 16 days of action against gender-based violence as an important opportunity to raise awareness and to call for action to end violence against women. We have supported this campaign over many years – and never has this message felt more poignant than over the last few year, which has highlighted the serious issue of women’s safety in society. 

“The Safe to Talk helpline provides free advice, support and information to victims, children and perpetrators, with access to multi-lingual specialist workers.  This makes it easier for individuals to access the services they need, offering support options in areas that are close to them.    

“There is still a lot of work to do around domestic abuse in the city, and our consortia commits to working together in the long term to further develop services that are accessible to all.” 

You will also notice that some parts of the city centre will be lit orange, including the Whittle Arch and fountain during the course of the 16 days to mark the campaign.

We ask you to take part in the important conversations happening across these 16 days. In particular, on 25 November, White Ribbon Day, we encourage everyone, especially men and boys, to wear a white ribbon and promise to never use, excuse, or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

You can visit the 16 Days of Action website for any further information you would like to know about this campaign.

Help and advice is available:

The SAFE TO TALK Helpline is available: 0800 111 4998.