The founder of a course aimed at preventing men’s violence against women is urging politicians to wake up and change the narrative around violent behaviour.
Shamsher Chohan from social enterprise Communities Inc developed the pioneering programme ‘Stand By Her’ with Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid, to empower men to challenge harmful behaviour towards women.
She’s now calling for politicians and senior leaders to take note of the changing conversation and take action.
Shamsher believes that by tackling lower level behaviours like inappropriate banter and sexist jokes, and giving men the confidence to intervene if they witness these behaviours, it will eventually lead to a societal change.
She claims tackling at lower levels will stop the escalation of harmful behaviours and believes we need to start holding men responsible for their actions.
The Stand By Me programme has already been successfully delivered in Nottinghamshire and London.
It aims to address misogyny in the earliest stages, empower men to become allies to women and challenge harmful behaviour they see in their environment.
The programme is being delivered in partnership with Nottinghamshire Women’s Aid to send a message that harassment and violence against women are no longer acceptable in society.
Course founder Shamsher Chohan said: “Stand by Her is a unique programme that shifts the focus. Instead of putting the responsibility on women to keep themselves safe, it targets the root cause of the problem – men’s harmful attitudes and behaviours.
“This changing narrative has really come to the fore since the tragic murder of Sarah Everard. Now more than ever the focus is shifting from the burden on the woman to staying safe but instead for men to change the way they behave. We need to start holding men responsible.
“The statistics are shocking. A UN report highlighted 97% of young women have been sexually harassed. That’s a horrifying figure.
“Changing behaviour isn’t going to happen overnight – we’re in it for the long term – but we have to start somewhere and as the mood of the conversation is changing, we need to do it now.”
Shamsher continued: “Reaching perpetrators isn’t what this is about. It’s about tackling those low level behaviours like inappropriate banter, sexist jokes, that could lead to bigger problems.
“We want to encourage men to stand up to their peers and tell them that the language they use or behaviours aren’t acceptable. This is true intervention and by standing up and saying ‘no, it’s not okay’, we’ll start to see a shift in societal norms.
“Ultimately this is about tackling the behaviours and attitudes of men which can lead to harmful behaviours. Tackling the root cause is the only way we can address the issue and start to see real change.”