In January this year, Bristol Women’s Voice discovered that The Marriott Hotel Bristol is hosting ‘An Evening With Floyd Mayweather’ on the 8th of March 2017, which is also the date of International Women’s Day. Mayweather is a man who has long history of violence against women, including several convictions and Bristol Women’s Voice does not believe we should be providing a platform for him to speak and sell his image. In February 2016 the Colston Hall cancelled a similar event after objections from women’s charities and groups. Ashton Gate, who were previously hosting, canceled the event stating that it went against the family values of the club and stadium.

A petition has been created to urge the Marriott Hotel to cancel the event. You can sign the petition here.

There will also be a protest outside the Marriott Hotel – details can be found here.

On 30th January 2017, Bristol Women’s Voice wrote an open letter to Marriott Hotel, City Centre Bristol. A copy of the letter is below:

To whom it may concern,

It has come to our attention that the Marriott Hotel is hosting an event called ‘an evening with Floyd Mayweather’ on the 8th of March 2017, which is also the date of international women’s day. In February 2016 the Colston Hall cancelled a similar event after objections from women’s charities and groups. Tour events in other cities including Cardiff were also cancelled, and Jonathan Ross pulled out of hosting the event. 

Mayweather is a man who has long history of violence against women, including several convictions. We do not believe that the Marriott Hotel should be providing a platform for him to speak and sell his image, especially on a day celebrating the achievements of women. The idolising of a dangerous perpetrator of domestic violence is unacceptable and we believe you should cancel your event.

Over fourteen thousand women and girls aged sixteen to fifty nine suffered from Domestic Violence in Bristol last year. In a time of austerity when services for domestic violence are being cut, and still two women a week are dying in the hands of male ex/partners, we believe providing Mr Mayweather with a platform to speak, particularly without questioning him about his violent, misogynist acts, gives a dangerous and damaging message to the public.

As a community we must stand together against violence against women and challenge the idea that talent and money make it excusable. By not providing Mayweather with a platform we can make that stand and choose to tell him and others that his actions and behaviour are not acceptable. Many of the women that face domestic violence do not have a platform to speak from and we believe that seeing Mr Mayweather speak and be celebrated will further their suffering and anxiety and reconfirm that actions such as his are acceptable. Those who face domestic violence often have a long and difficult recovery suffering from social stigma and lack of action by officials and we do not want them to feel that access to justice is dependant on celebrity status.

We should remember that one in three women globally will experience violence at the hands of a partner. Domestic Violence is not a rare incident and we must all take action to put an end to it.

We urge you to take this matter seriously and cancel your event. If you choose to go ahead with the event you risk damaging your otherwise good name.

We look forward to your response on this matter.

Yours Faithfully,

On behalf of:

Bristol Women’s Voice

SARSAS (Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support)

Bristol Fawcett

Bristol Sisters Uncut

On 1st February, Bristol Women’s Voice received the following response:

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me.  We are a hospitality company that simply provides public accommodations and function space.  Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement of any group or individual.

Disappointed with this response, Bristol Women’s Voice wrote another letter to the Marriott, again urging them to reconsider. A copy of this letter is below:

We are wholeheartedly disappointed by your response that the Marriott Hotel is “a hospitality company that simply provides public accommodations and function space.  Acceptance of business does not indicate support, or endorsement of any group or individual.”

Having reviewed Marriott Hotels website, we would like to draw your attention to your Corporate Responsibility, Core Values and Heritage pages whereby it states:

“We demonstrate our purpose, values and principles of responsible business through policies on employment, human rights, environment, supply chain, and in the conduct we uphold and expect of others.”

“We Act with Integrity

How we do business is as important as the business we do.

We hold ourselves to uncompromising ethical and legal standards. This extends to our day-to-day business conduct, our employee policies, our supply chain policies, our environmental programs and practices, and our commitment to human rights and social responsibility.”

We ask that you please clarify how these principles of “responsible business” and “uncompromising ethical standards” is in keeping with your decision to host Floyd Mayweather on International Women’s Day?

Further, we would like to draw your attention to some other points to take into your consideration. As we previously explained in our initial letter, many women in Bristol suffer from domestic violence but we also wanted to draw your addition to the fact that statistically, there may be employees of the Marriott Hotel City Centre too that are impacted by domestic violence. The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence have produced a handy calculator that helps you assess the cost impact of domestic violence on your workforce – we recommend that you look at this tool which is available to view here.

In addition, we want to draw attention to the impact domestic violence has on the workplace. The lost economic output of women affected, costs the UK £36.7bn annually. The cost to UK businesses is over £1.9 billion annually. In the UK in any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work because of domestic violence and abuse, and 2% lose their job as a direct result of the abuse. 56% of abused women arrive late for work at least five times and 58% miss at least three days of work a month. On average, workers who experience domestic violence miss 26% more work time due to absenteeism and lateness than workers who do not experience violence.

As an employer, the Marriott has a legal obligation and responsibility to support and protect your employees. You must adhere to legal requirements around health, safety and the mitigation of harm to the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees. You have a duty of care to the people you employ, for example ensuring anti-harassment, discrimination, and bullying within your codes of conduct. By hosting Mayweather, you are compromising the duty of care are that you give to your staff.

Again, we ask you to re-consider your decision to host Mayweather at the Marriott on International Women’s Day.

Yours Faithfully,

Bristol Women’s Voice

Bristol Women’s Voice has also written to the event sponsors asking them to reconsider sponsorship:

Sam FM

Bristol Blue Glass

Level Crooks

Whats on Bristol

Greyhound Print

Central Chambers

As of date of publication of this post, we are yet to receive a response from any of the sponsors, nor a further response from the Marriott Hotel.


On February 27, the Bristol Post announced that it was pulling out of holding the Women of the Year Awards 2017 on March 9 at the Marriott Hotel, City Centre. Instead, it is now being hosted at an alternative venue. More details can be found here.

On February 28, the following businesses and organisations have joined BWV as signatories to the open letter to the Bristol Marriott:

  • UNISON University of the West of England
  • Bristol University Student’s Union
  • The University of West of England
  • Hollie Gazzard Trust
  • Bristol Disability Equality Forum
  • See it From Her
  • One25

Bristol Zero Tolerance and Bristol Women’s Voice are concerned about a sexual consent workshop given by Avon and Somerset Police at North Bristol Post 16 Centre on July 5th 2016 which included an out-of-date resource with the title ‘R U Asking For It’. This feeds into a culture of victim blaming and is completely inappropriate in light of the This is Not An Excuse campaign also run by the Police.

We have been pleased that the young women who received the workshop were able to have their voices and objections heard on the day and through social media and it is also encouraging that the story has been raised by local and national media (also here) as a serious issue.

We are also pleased that North Bristol Post 16 Centre immediately handled the situation proactively and in a timely manner. They gave the students time to ask challenging questions in order to share a positive dialogue around the issue and they met with the Police officers immediately following their session to provide feedback and express concern. You can read their statement in full here.

Avon and Somerset Police have also been proactive in their response and have dealt with the incident in a timely manner. As Avon and Somerset Police are signatories to Bristol Zero Tolerance we are working alongside them to see how they can take positive action in relation to this including training for staff and awareness about both This Is Not An Excuse and Bristol Zero Tolerance.

This incident highlights how important accurate messages about consent and healthy relationships are and how all schools must ensure that these are presented to young people through appropriate activities and well trained speakers. We are pleased to be working with the Bristol Ideal to encourage more schools to include consent and healthy relationships programmes in their curriculum and to ensure that young people are able to feel confident and informed about relationships, consent and gender-based violence issues.

Users of a Bristol cycle track may have seen some unusual posters on their way to work this morning. Bold black and white images of women with slogans like “Women are not outside for your entertainment” and “My outfit is NOT an invitation” can be seen along the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path and at other locations in Easton. The action is part of an international movement of activists taking part in “World Wheat Pasting Night”. The event was created by the New York artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Her ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile’ art series draws attention to street harassment by placing drawn portraits of real women and their words outside in public spaces.

Rachel, a local activist, part of a local group of women taking part said:

“It feels so good and exciting to do something positive and visible like this. I loved seeing the posters in my area last year, so I thought I would take part in the 2016 event. I really want to educate people to know that it isn’t ok to harass women in the street.”

For more information about International Wheat Posting Night go to

Bristol Zero Tolerance is looking for an enthusiastic intern to support them in developing and producing content for the Bristol Big Screen to advertise the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative and raise awareness about gender-based violence.

Project tasks will include:

  • Get information from the Big Screen website on specifications for content and produce process documentation
  • Obtain Big Screen events list to create a timetable for 2016 of possible events and content related to specific dates and events
  • Research existing local films on gender-based violence (short films under 3mins or up to 10mins).
  • Contact local film makers about making short films on gender-based violence in partnership with Bristol Zero Tolerance.
  • Contact universities/colleges media departments about making short films on gender-based violence in partnership with Bristol Zero Tolerance.
  • Contact universities/colleges animation and motion graphic departments about supporting Bristol Zero Tolerance to produce content for the Big Screen.
  • Design and produce JPEG images for Big Screen.
  • Contact Bristol Zero Tolerance business supporters to let them know about working with Big Screen .
  • Include work with Big Screen on Bristol Zero Tolerance and Bristol Women’s Voice social media as appropriate.
  • Scope the possibility of a Bristol Zero Tolerance short film night.

Project timetable: There is no specific deadline for the project but it will fit into certain dates and programmes depending on the events timetable. Intern to update regularly on progress and ask for any support needed. Internship runs from May-September, approx 2 days per week. Expenses will be covered.

For more information, or to apply, send your CV and covering letter to: by Monday 25th April 9am.


Been a victim sexual harassment or gender discrimination in your workplace? Live in Bristol?

The Bristol Cable wants to hear from you.

If you’ve been affected by these issues, or have witnessed them happening in your workplace, then fill out our short 5 minute survey here.

All answers kept ANONYMOUS.

Spread the word to help The Bristol Cable investigate the reality of sexual discrimination in Bristol workplaces.

 2.5 women killed a week in the hands of partners and ex-partners

ruth o'learyWords by Ruth O’Leary, BWV Reporter




This Shocking statistic above is not something you see regularly in the media. The UK police estimate that they get a call every minute from someone who is a victim of domestic violence, yet it is the most underreported crime in Britain. This made me think, what are we doing in Britain to help survivors and why is it a crime that affects women so greatly? I decided I wanted answers so I went to speak to an IDVA (independent Domestic Violence Advisor), for the national charity Victim Support, to see what is being done for female survivors of domestic violence.

I meet that day with Anna (not her real name), who was an inspirational woman and has worked with DV survivors throughout her career. She greeted me with a warm hello and my fear of using up her valuable time melted away. I blurted out my first question straight away. “How do you do this job, how do you cope!?!” Anna informed me that in 2001 she had worked for a self-harm helpline for women. “The things that I heard on that helpline…. nothing has ever topped that since. When you have the anonymity of talking over the phone with someone you will never meet, they will tell you anything.”

As well as working as an IDVA for multiple Domestic Violence charities she has had personal first-hand experience with Domestic Violence herself. You can see that this has helped her to build trust and understand the women she works with. “I am a normal person who has been through crap too,” she states.

Domestic violence is about power and control, but it can come in many forms. Victim Support website states that physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse are all forms of domestic violence. So why is it such common crime that women face? One thing she does say is, “We are not all equal are we?”

Its then very clear gender inequality is a major factor. She tells me that old stereotypes are still very real in our society, such as the women staying at home with the baby whilst the man is the dominant breadwinner. But it’s not just these stereotypes; gender inequality is such a large-scale problem. Lad mags promote the idea that women are mere play things, music screams sexual violence and everything under the sun is run mainly by men.

Her job role is dealing with women in high risk relationships, “its short, sharp kind of work.” But she sees a flaw with this. There is not enough funding for long-term support and this causes problems. Firstly you’re not really dealing with the root of the problem and she shows this with one simple statement. “It’s dealing with the crisis. Crisis..gone..crisis..gone.” This means women are prone to re-victimisation and therefore referrals back to the IDVA. This is something she sees on a regular basis. But also there are benefits to having long-term support for women. Anna speaks of a case she previously had, with a woman she helped for around 3 years. Anna tells me that she could not even look people in the eye at the beginning of the support and then later down the line “she was laughing, actually chatting (and) joking. I even got her to go to a DV group which was huge for her.”

The long-term support was a key factor in helping her build the confidence to then support other women suffering Domestic Violence. That to me is incredibly beautiful.



You can call Victim Support (08 08 16 89 111) and speak to someone about any issues concerning Domestic Violence. They will not pressure you to report it or do anything that you are not comfortable with, they can just listen. There are IDVA’s for both male and female victims of Domestic Violence.


You can call Next Link (0117 925 0680), a Bristol based charity for supporting Domestic Violence survivors.


If you feel someone you know may be in an abusive relationship you can call 101 and leave report, anonymously if you choose. If anyone is ever in direct danger always call 999. Or if you are worried about a child facing these issues you can call NSPCC 0808 800 5000.


Read more from Ruth, BWV Reporter:


big lottery

Doma (doll) screening with Skype Q+A from director Abeer Zeibak Haddad

Sandi DheensaBy BWV Reporter Sandi Dheensa

As part of the Palestine Film Festival, Bristol’s Watershed screened Doma (Doll in Arabic) and a Skype Q+A with director, Abeer Zeibak Haddad. Having recently been to a screening of Nishtha Jain’s Gulabi Gang, I couldn’t help but draw parallels. Here, again, was a woman breaking a long-endured silence through film by giving a much-needed voice to others.

The first scene shows a puppet of an older man pushing one of a young girl faster and faster on a carousel. “I don’t want the carousel, I want to get off!” the girl screams. This scene is from the director’s award-winning puppet show about sexual abuse, ‘Chocolate’.

Award-winning maybe, but (at least) one venue cancelled Chocolate because nobody bought tickets. “I guess sexual education is not that important to people” says Adnan, who broke the news. To me, couching this issue as one about sexual education seems like an absurd over-simplification. Perhaps too to Haddad, who undefeated, decides to tell women’s stories on film instead.

The interviewees present a litany of tales about (often childhood) sexual abuse by brothers, fathers and uncles. Several times women talk about their abusers as animals and themselves as prey. They say how it’s just when you’re at your most wide-eyed and eager to learn about the world that the world deals this blow. Women are effectively silenced because the community tend to blame the girls for ‘disgracing the family’ and sometimes sentence them to death as a result. The interviewees are understandably scared: only one, Manal, shows her face and the rest are obscured.

The women, however, are also angry. Amal courageously confronts her rapist on the phone. As she agonisingly describes how the rape has changed her life, he despicably responds “but I heard you got married didn’t you?” (She didn’t, because she wasn’t a virgin). Another woman, Mai, talks to a lawyer about taking her uncle to court. She’s reluctant because she doesn’t want to repeatedly recount the experience to (frequently male) investigators and has heard about the way families sometimes react. The lawyer agrees that women are in an inferior position but encourages her to persist.

As Gulabi Gang also showed us, some women are complicit in the abuse: Mai recalls how her grandmother asked no questions upon seeing her, aged 5-years-old, naked in bed with her uncle. Again, like in Bundelkhand, some men support the cause: one speaks at a demonstration for the many murdered women about the cover-up of his daughter’s killing at her husband’s hands.

The situation in Palestine is complicated and the tendency is to think about the conflict with Israel. This film helps to bring into sharp focus the issue of women’s rights within the region. It’s distressing to hear such detailed stories about sexual abuse, but it’s crucial that they’re shared. The director hopes that the film will encourage women in Arab society to seek help. Hopefully, by continuing a similar dialogue, women everywhere will be encouraged do the same.

IMG_7879By BWV Reporter Anabel Provansal

Rites was created by Cora Bissett and Yursa Warsama. Directed by Cora Bissett and performed at the Tobacco Factory Theatre.

Information in the media can be misleading, sensational and often black and white. Rites is a verbatim theatre performance; verbatim meaning plays constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic, in the case of Rites these were mostly individual interviews.

The play Rites enables an open conversation and encompasses real accounts of girls in Britain from up and down the country, who have been affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). There are accounts told from mothers who feel under pressure to continue the practice, from the experiences of midwives, lawyers, police officers, teachers and health workers.

The eclectic mix of different personal accounts revealed diverse viewpoints on this matter, probing out my own prejudices, fears, and misconceptions by exploring the complexities and challenges involved when dealing with FGM.

A positive feature of this play was that it never felt too intense or showed extremely graphic images and hence I didn’t feel at any point that I had to distance myself from the action on stage and thus I could fully engage with such a delicate subject.

The use of multi-media wasn’t over the top, in fact projection enhanced scenes in the play, carrying the audience into the worlds of those affected. The actors played multiple roles most of the time and the interchanges worked smoothly and effectively. It was pleasing to see a male actor take on several male roles as FGM importantly is a conversation to be had with all. Not only was the cast multi-cultural but the audience as well and yes, there were men watching!

Personally, I felt the play explored a variety of themes though discussing FGM. Themes around the repression of women, the representation of women, imperialism, race, what it means to belong to a culture, while also highlighting families and the strong bonds that can course complex situations.
We were made to reflect on the all too common questions: ‘ do we criticise other cultures and see our own as the better?… Do we easily stigmatise?… Make it a case of us versus them? …

This was a play well worth seeing.
Simulating, engaging and relevant to today’s burning issues.