Call For Education On Violence Against Women And Girls

The Education Minister, Paul Givan, has been challenged by the SDLP on the proposed introduction of mandatory education around violence against women and girls in schools.

At a meeting of the Education Committee on Wednesday 20 March, SDLP Opposition Education Spokesperson Cara Hunter asked the Minister if he believed "all schools should educate young people on the subject".

According to the SDLP, the Minister said that he believed the autonomy of schools should be respected on the issue.

Speaking after the meeting, East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said: "Given the prevalence of violence against women and girls in our society I believe that we must use every lever open to us to deal with this scourge which has left the North one of the least safe places for women in Europe. For years we have been discussing the best way to protect women and girls and the collapse of the Assembly impeded progress on a much-needed strategy.
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"Key around addressing this issue will be education in both our schools and universities. If we want to change the way that we approach this then we need to educate people from a young age about what kind of behaviour is and isn't acceptable. We need to provide information and resources so that people can learn about these issues and face them when they occur in their lives. Just last year sexual offences reached their highest level on record – now more than ever preventative education is crucial.

"I was disappointed by the Minister's answer today at committee, it has been proven time and time again that leaving these issues up to schools doesn't work and we cannot continue down the same path that has led us to the situation we are currently in. If we are serious about keeping women and girls safe and changing our society's attitudes then we need uniform mandatory education on these issues at schools across the North. Only then we will begin to change the outdated and dangerous attitudes and behaviours that have caused serious harm to so many lives."

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