Why do we need Bristol Zero Tolerance?

Gender-based violence has a high cost – it costs lives as well as restricting opportunities and perpetuating inequality. It affects everyone in Bristol, not only those who directly experience gender-based violence, but also their families, communities and our economy.

In 2013, the Bristol Quality of Life survey reported that 78% of respondents agreed that tackling violence against women and children should be a priority in Bristol.

The evidence of the need to address gender-based violence is compelling:
Based on a population of 432,500 (ONS 2012 Mid-Year Population Estimate), the Home Office estimates that 14,273 women and girls aged 16-59 in Bristol have been a victim of domestic abuse in the past year. The figure is much higher if we include women above 60 years old and men of any age.

In addition, compared to other core cities in England, Bristol is ranked the third highest reported for sexual offences per thousand population. Estimates suggest that 43,340 women in Bristol are likely to have been raped or sexually abused at some point in their lifetime.

Statistics for harassment are harder to come by however, Hollaback carried out an international survey on street harassment in 2014 with the highest number of responses in the UK coming from Bristol. 90% of UK responses said they first experienced harassment on the street before reaching the age of 17, and 63% of women reported that they had been groped or fondled within the last 12 months.

Sexual exploitation has also been highlighted as a key issue in Bristol with a number of high profile cases. Exploitation constitutes a form of coercion and violence, detrimental to the person’s physical and mental health and can include sexual or economic exploitation.

We don’t have any specific statistics for Bristol but in the UK over 2,400 children were victims of sexual exploitation in gangs and groups between 2010 and 2011 and over 230 children were known to be trafficked for sexual exploitation in 2014. In 2014, 2,340 people were also identified as potential victims of trafficking, 671 of these were children.

Bristol Zero Tolerance hopes to raise awareness about what gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation entails and how prevalent it is across Bristol as a way to work towards creating a zero tolerance to this behaviour and ultimately preventing it from happening in the first place.