THE young founder of a global campaign highlighting sexism in everyday situations has become the patron of a vital service supporting victims of sexual violence and abuse.
Since Taunton’s Laura Bates launched the Everyday Sexism Project in 2012, 50,000 women’s stories of gender (in)equality have been catalogued, and the project has gone ‘viral’, expanding into 18 countries. Its findings have also helped advise MPs and police forces.
This month, Laura, a former King’s Hall and King’s College student, became ambassador of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS).
SARSAS supports women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at any point of their lives, with a confidential helpline, telephone and face-to-face support, and specialist counselling.
Government statistics from January 2013 estimate a fifth of 16- to 59-year-olds as having experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
Laura said: “I feel extremely proud and privileged to be joining forces with SARSAS and look forward to supporting the work of this vital organisation as its patron.
“One of the major revelations of the stories the Everyday Sexism Project has collected is that sexism and sexual violence exist on a spectrum.
“The same ideas and attitudes that underpin the more ‘minor’ incidents we are often encouraged not to ‘make a fuss about’ are also at the root of more serious sexual offences.
“It is vital to tackle gender inequality at every level if we are to see meaningful change.
“While we still live in a society in which 85,000 women are raped annually and one in five women is the victim of a sexual offence, the work of organisations like SARSAS and the Rape Crisis network, and the support they provide to survivors is utterly invaluable.”