Women across the West Country taking part in action against gender-based violence

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

Rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse - these are just some of the reasons why hundreds of women in the West Country are taking part in 16 days of action to take gender-based violence seriously.

A woman is killed by a man every three days in the UK.

Plymouth's most common crimes last year were violence and sexual offences with 8,841 offences recorded. According to the Women's centre for Cornwall last year around 5,900 women were raped or sexually assaulted in Cornwall and around 14,700 women experienced domestic abuse.

The feeling of not being safe was compounded two years ago with the kidnap and murder of Plymouth teenager Bobbi Anne McLeod.

Elle Vuitton, president of women's group Plymouth Soroptimists, says there's a "nervousness" that lingers for women and girls in the city.

"We know the person who murdered Bobbi is no longer here. But the thought of how that happened and how easily that was. That nervousness is still very much there."

The feeling of not being safe was compounded two years ago with the kidnap and murder of Plymouth teenager Bobbi Anne McLeod. Credit: ITV News

On International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls day (25 November) the Plymouth Soroptimists are leading a walk wearing orange to represent brighter future free from all violence.

While females are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, Elle says there is a need for men to get involved "calling others out" if they see inappropriate behaviour.

"If you're in a situation where you see a male behaving inappropriately to another woman, instead of just talking to your friends, it's about having the courage and understanding of how to approach that situation and stop it before it escalates."

After Bobbi-Anne's death, Plymouth City Council set up a Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) commission to become a city which does not tolerate sexist or misogynistic language.

Councillor Sally Haydon, the cabinet member for Community Safety, says the council is rolling out a new strategy based on what women in the city say needs to change. This includes not only working with working survivors but also changing attitudes of potential perpetrators.

"It's very important because obviously we need to carry on working with our survivors. But, you know, to stop the violence in all aspects we need to work with people that harm and show them how they're harming, why they're harming and have them understand it."

Plymouth City Council says it is on track to be the first area in the UK to receive a national accreditation for its efforts to end domestic abuse.

Cllr Zoe Reilly, the City Council's VAWG Champion, says while tomorrow starts a conversation about gendered violent attacks it shouldn't be the end of it"I've always said one day of activism for anything is never enough, because there are people that live this life for 365 days a year and we've got Christmas coming up, which is domestic abuse and violence escalates dramatically at that period."


  • Plymouth

At 2pm women gathered outside Drake Circus in the city centre dressed in orange. The vibrant colour was used to represent a brighter future free from all violence.

Drake Circus, The University, The Theatre Royal, The Treasury, The Hospital and Smeaton’s Tower all turned orange for the day.

  • Cornwall

A reclaim the night event at Newquay's Killacourt is taking place at 6pm.

The vigil will be followed by the peaceful women’s march through the streets of Newquay, with people encouraged to share the message that they do not tolerate harassment, abuse and violence and the misogyny that sits at the foundation of it all.Jackie May, CEO of The Women’s Centre Cornwall comments: “The message is clear, women and girls do not consent to living in a society where they are not safe, respected and free in all spaces. We are asking our community to come together and take action to uproot the misogynistic beliefs, attitudes and behaviour that contribute to a culture of disrespect, abuse and violence towards women and girls. Join our movement to end violence against women and girls.

We’re encouraging people to bring your friends and family...bring your voice, flowers, lights and banners as we make noise, create warmth and take up space.”

The Women’s Centre Cornwall provides life-changing services to over 1,000 women a year through a wide range of projects and services across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Eastwood Park Prison. The charity is run by women, for women and offers an empowering, women-centred approach to the healing journey.

16 Days is an organising strategy for individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence against women and girls.

Over 6000 organisations in approx. 187 countries have participated in the global 16 Days campaign since 1991, with a reach of 300 million.