(This item was first published in the Brighton Argus on 13th October. The sentences in italics were removed by the Argus prior to publication).
The sexual assault of a woman in Meeting House Lane has been described by police as ‘an isolated incident’ as reported in the Brighton Argus yesterday (12th October 2021). How can something be described as isolated when sexual harassment and sexual assaults are a daily occurrence, where domestic sexual assaults are commonplace, and when at least three women are murdered each week.
The one thing that brings all these together, making them not isolated incidents, is that the perpetrators are almost exclusively men.
It is one reason why I am supporting the fantastic #CallHimOut initiative by the Lewes Football Club’s men’s team against the epidemic of misogyny, sexism and male-on-female violence. In a statement the club has said that “it’s time, it’s way beyond time, that men took personal responsibility for what all women have to endure, day in, day out. This is a problem for men to resolve, not women.”
The principle of #CallHimOut is that whenever a man hears or sees something said or done that they feel is disrespectful, sexist or harmful in any way to a woman, whether she’s there or not, they will speak to that man and they will #CallHimOut.
I know from personal experience that doing so isn’t easy, particularly in a sporting environment. Back in the early 1990s after I objected to sexist exchanges in the pub after a cricket game, I was never again asked to play for the team. It was distressing but nowhere near as distressing as the experience of women who are on the receiving end of demeaning comments, unwanted advances, and ‘isolated’ sexual assaults.
There is an increasing recognition of unhealthy attitudes and dangerous behaviours in police forces up and down the country. Perhaps male officers in Sussex Police and the Police Federation itself could #CallHimOut and, thereby, begin to rebuild trust in policing.