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Southwark Council talks tackling sexual harrasment

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By The Drum, Editorial

December 4, 2023 | 6 min read

Southwark Council partnered with Nice and Serious to tackle the serious issue of cutting sexual harrasment in the area. The campaign picked up the video and film award at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the campaign work

In Southwark – and across the rest of the country – women and girls face sexual harassment from men and boys on a daily basis. 71% of women of all ages in the UK have experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space. This number then rises to 86% among 18-24-year-olds.

Sexual harassment includes cat-calling, staring, and unwanted touching. This ‘everyday’ sexist behavior sits on a sliding scale of harm where, if not called out, can escalate into violence against women and girls. We need more men and boys to see life 'through a girl's eyes', because once they see what it means and feels like to experience sexual harassment every day, they can help stop it.

Strategy

Southwark Council partnered with creative agency Nice and Serious to deliver a new campaign film aimed at men and boys aged 16 to 25 years old, a key age window for change in young people’s risk-taking behaviors as they grow and develop.

To ensure the film portrayed an authentic representation of the everyday sexual harassment women and girls experience, the concept was developed closely with young people from Southwark, including Southwark Youth Parliament and Southwark Young Advisors. When writing the film script, Nice and Serious collaborated with female talent from local universities to adapt the language and nuances that would cut through to the target audience.

Nice and Serious developed a film narrative that follows a teenage boy who is forced to navigate through the unwanted attention and sexual harassment from women and girls on his way to school. The swap in gender roles portrays to boys and men what it actually feels like to be objectified and sexually harassed, reminding them of their responsibility to call out unacceptable behavior to help stop male violence against women and girls.

Results

‘Through Her Eyes’ was launched on White Ribbon Day 2022, a national day to raise awareness of violence against women and girls. The release was covered by multiple national press outlets, including The Mirror, Campaign Magazine, Evening Standard, and PR Week. Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London, and Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, also provided public endorsement for the campaign.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “We all need to work together as a society to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls. This excellent campaign by Southwark Council will help to get the message across to men and boys that words matter and there is a link between misogyny and violence. Every Londoner should watch this.”

Harriet Harman, MP for Camberwell and Peckham, said: “I fully support Southwark Council’s new campaign focusing on men and boys in the quest to end male violence against women and girls. There continues to be an epidemic of male violence against women and girls. Everyday women and girls are killed, injured or sexually harassed by men. Men have got an important role to play in stopping male violence, by continuously re-examining their own attitudes, by stepping in when they see other men threatening women and girls, and by male perpetrators taking responsibility for their own actions.”

Screenings of the film were held in all 18 secondary schools in Southwark. The film resonated widely with students, with one male student saying “before, this was all normalized, but it’s definitely something that’s going to be in my mind from now on because it shouldn’t be normal.” Campaigning for the film will continue in September 2023, working with Southwark Young Advisors to help embed the film within schools’ PSHE curriculum and youth groups’ work. The Metropolitan Police have also embedded the film in their work with schools.

‘Through Her Eyes’ has been shared across the networks of multiple violence against women and girls organizations, including solace, Refuge, SAFE Lives, Let Me Know, Domestic Violence Intervention Project. The Local Government Association has used the film as a ‘best practice’ guide, with multiple London Councils, including Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Barnet, also sharing the film.

Since its launch, the film has been viewed over 467,000 times across Southwark's owned channels.

Client Testimonial

“In Southwark – and across the rest of the country – women and girls face sexual harassment from men and boys on a daily basis. Seemingly ‘low-level’ acts, like cat-calling, are fueled and excused by the same sexist attitudes that underpin full-blown violence against women and girls. Changing these attitudes and stopping misogynistic behavior can be quite literally a matter of life and death.

“We hit the jackpot when we chose to work with Nice and Serious. From the outset, it was clear they totally understood our brief and were as committed to instigating behavior change as the council is. Every stage of creative and production for the video was seamless. The result was a highly impactful video that is already achieving a major cut through with men and boys in our borough as part of our ongoing campaign.”

Louise Neilan, Head of Communications and Corporate Consultation, Southwark Council

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