BWV Reporter Nancy Fielding has published a piece in Bristol 24/7.

A copy of it is below – note, *possible trigger warning*.

‘What on earth is Bristol doing inviting a known rapist to speak here?’

By Nancy Fielding

In the week when Bristolian women celebrated International Women’s Day in a multitude of exciting ways, we also experienced a boxer who has been convicted multiple times of violence against women visiting our city, and the promise that a man who freely admits he is a rapist will be speaking at an event here on Monday night. What on earth is going on?

Boxer Floyd Mayweather is one of the wealthiest men on the planet and is celebrated for his sporting achievements. He has also been convicted multiple times of domestic violence against women, he has been sentenced to community service, given a suspended jail term and, in 2012, spent three months in prison for six offences of violence towards women. His presence in Bristol (where his event was cancelled last year due to objections, and moved around several venues this year due to further objections) was greeted by a protest outside the venue. (

And there’s more. On Monday, rapist Tom Stranger will be speaking at a Festival of Ideas event in a bookshop… alongside Thordis Eva, the woman he raped. (

Stranger raped Elva in 1996 when she was 16 and he 18, in an ordeal lasting two hours while she was so drunk she could not even speak and he took advantage of a vulnerable young woman of whom he was supposed to be looking after. Chillingly, Elva now says: “In order to stay sane, I silently counted the seconds on my alarm clock. And ever since that night, I’ve known that there are 7,200 seconds in two hours.” (

Eight years after the rape, Elva decided to contact Stranger and confront him via a series of emails, which culminated in a decision to meet up. The result of this is a joint TED Talk, a co-written book, and a series of talks promoting the book where both Elva and Stranger take the platform. And this is what will be happening in Bristol on Monday as part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas.

The Bristol event has so far faced an online petition, a volley of upset and angered people who are expressing themselves on social media, and a range of blog posts. All against the event and expressing shock and disgust at the event, and at the invitation of a rapist to speak in our city. Elva and Stranger had been due to speak in London this weekend at the Women of the World Festival, but this has just been cancelled due to a huge outcry from angered women. (

There seems no difference between Stranger and Mayweather. They are both men who have committed violent acts against women, and who are being ‘celebrated’ and invited to come and speak in our city about themselves as if they are heroes. It is inappropriate. And it is insulting that we are expected to pay to hear them, as if their opinions are valuable.

In many ways, the Tom Stranger event is even more unpalatable than the Floyd Mayweather one, because Stranger has not been convicted of his crime, because he is presented as a charming, white, middle-class, conventionally attractive man who therefore isn’t a criminal (yet he freely admits he is a rapist), and because of the devastating message this puts out to women everywhere that there is no point seeking a conviction for their rapist because rapists rarely get convicted. This reinforces the existing damaging message that women are not to be believed.

While this event may pretend to be (and the Festival of Ideas insists this is the case) about Thordis Elva and her experience, it is not. It has, of course, become all about this man and not about the woman at all. Despite the fact Elva is an extremely interesting and strong woman who has achieved impressive things in her career. But this story has now become about him, not her. Which is a shame, because in her native Iceland Elva is an acclaimed feminist writer, journalist and public speaker who was named woman of the year 2015, and she is a recognised specialist on violence against women and girls. She sounds amazing.

Elva’s story is important, as is the story of all rape survivors. But just as her words are overshadowed by the very charming voice of her rapist in their TED Talk (a rapist who makes jokes while he talks, and who stands with his hands in his pockets while his victim talks), Elva’s story is also being overshadowed by the presence of Stranger in their live talks. Scribe, who published their book South Of Forgiveness this month, have said: “Tom Stranger is a perpetrator of rape. He has acknowledged as much publicly, and seeks to avoid inappropriate praise for his admission of guilt. He believes taking responsibility for committing any form of sexual violence should be viewed as essential rather than praise-worthy, whilst going to lengths to avoid suggesting that perpetrators should make contact with any individuals they have subjected to sexual violence. He will be donating a proportion of the proceeds from the project to charity.”

That’s great in theory but the reality is that Stranger is of course dominating all of the discussions, newspaper articles, social media posts and general debates around Elva’s story – a story that she has a right to explore in whatever way she feels appropriate for her. Yet again, he is dominating her and her experiences. And whether or not Elva feels this herself, the message being put out there for all other survivors of rape and sexual assault is that their voices and experiences do not count, that they should be making peace with their rapist.

The Bristol Festival of Ideas has issued a statement saying: “We have organised a number of events around violence against women and girls and have supported many women’s and feminist organisations in their work. These are issues we continue to explore and organise events and initiatives around.” But this doesn’t excuse anything. The fact that they have included some events in their past and future programmes around feminism has no bearing on the fact this this one event is alienating and potentially triggering to existing survivors of sexual assault – women will doubtless feel excluded from the event as why on earth would they wish to attend?

 It is worth also remembering that Bristol has good credentials as a feminist city. Bristol was the first city to sign up to the European Convention against Trafficking; was the first UK city to sign up to the European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life; was the first city to create a mayoral Women’s Commission; was one of the first UK cities to have a violence against women strategy; was awarded White Ribbon status, showing the city’s commitment to eliminating violence against women and girls; has the ‘This Is Not An Excuse’ programme of public advertising across the city to challenge ideas of sexual entitlement; has a programme of education available to all of Bristol’s early years, primary and secondary schools via the Bristol Ideal; offers workplace DV training sessions being developed by Public Health Bristol; and Bristol is host to the widely acclaimed Zero Tolerance initiative, working towards a city that is free from gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation.

Bearing all of this in mind, what on earth is Bristol doing inviting a known rapist to speak here? It’s truly staggering. Not only did this man commit a violent sexual assault on a woman, but he has received no criminal punishment, and now he is profiting from his actions as a rapist (as noted above, Stranger is only donating ‘a proportion’ of his fee from the book and talks to charity).

This whole episode puts out the very harmful message that as long as you say ‘sorry’, you can get away with the most hideous of crimes.

Nancy Fielding is a reporter for Bristol Women’s Voice: an organisation seeking to make women’s equality a reality in Bristol.

Written by BWV Reporter Amy Cox.

I have a sister, she is 20 years old and the other day when we were on the phone she told me about how she’d gone out the night before and drank too much. Upon hearing that Ched Evans had been acquitted of rape I couldn’t help but think back to the last conversation I’d had with my sister. In that moment I thought of her on a night out, and I could no longer see her as an independent, fun loving young person, but as someone who could be vulnerable to the advances of a predatory young man existing within a culture that not only legitimizes the sexual abuse of women, but goes above and beyond to humiliate and degrade its victims.

Let’s be clear, an appeals court has found Evans innocent but the tactics deployed to secure that verdict cast a dark shadow over the Justice System and certainly over the verdict itself. Calling on two of the victim’s previous sexual partners opened up her sexual life to a degree of scrutiny which is almost always disallowed in cases of this nature, and rightly so. Sorry, I was unaware that one of the criteria for being a victim of rape was to have a sexual history resembling that of an E.L James character (before the Billionaire spanking sessions and SNM predilections). A judge and jury must objectively decide that they don’t find your previous sexual history distasteful and that you have never acted in a sexually “questionable” manner, all of which are entirely subjective and in no way relevant to whether or not you could ever be a victim of rape.

The use of this form of “evidence” is deeply troubling and the implications for future women wanting to come forward could be severe. It presents yet another painful and humiliating hurdle they must jump on the road to justice, that’s even if it gets as far as court, which devastatingly, it barely ever does.

Another aspect of this which has left me and others feeling furious at the whole Evans spectacle has been the response post-verdict. Within hours of Evan’s innocence being proclaimed social media was alight with his supporters rejoicing at his freedom and vehemently calling for the woman who accused him to “pay”. I find reading some of the comments deeply disturbing, one person commented that if a girl goes back to a hotel room with a guy what does she expect, what indeed? Surely she can’t expect to be raped and left naked, disorientated and alone and then upon coming forward be treated with any semblance of sympathy and respect…Of course not, she’d been drinking, she went back willingly and she appears to have committed the mortal sin of having previous sexual partners.

Comments and beliefs of this nature are a startling reminder that misogyny is not something of the past that Germaine Greer and the gang burned along with their bras never to rear its ugly head again. The reality is misogyny has never left us, it continues to pervade our society and the Evan’s case is just one of the many moments which reinforce its potency within our culture.

A comment made by Evan’s during police questioning continues to play over in my mind, he said; “footballers are rich…and that is what girls want”. This confident proclamation about what women want doesn’t stray too far from a statement once made by Presidential hopeful Donald Trump; “when you’re a star they let you do it…you can do anything”. Callous assumptions about what women want and what is permissible to do to them speaks volumes of the self-entitlement felt by certain men when it comes to physical relations with women. In their minds we lose all depth and humanity, we become simple minded consumers always wanting and willing ourselves to be consumed by them. Every time a statement is made to this effect, sexual violence against women is made that bit more ok, and more victims are silenced and more perpetrators walk free.


November 25 is the UN day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Why this day?

According to the United Nations:

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic. Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime.

So what about Bristol?

  • 43,340 women in Bristol are likely to have been raped or sexually abused at some point in their lifetime[i].
  • The Avon & Somerset Constabulary recorded crime rate for rape is 22.9 per 100,000. This number is in line with the average across England and Wales.[ii]
  • Only 15% of victims said they had reported offences to the police.[iii]
  • 14,273 women and girls aged 16-59 in Bristol are estimated to have been a victim of domestic abuse in 2013. An additional 2,905 older women could have been victims of domestic violence and abuse in the last year.[iv]
  • 68,800 women in Bristol are likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetime.[v]
  • If sexual assault and stalking are included, then 99,000 women in Bristol (45% of the female population) have experienced at least one incident of inter-personal abuse in their lifetimes.[vi]
  • 4,758 women and girls aged 16-59 in Bristol have been a victim of sexual assault in the past year[vii]
  • Repeat victimisation is common. 44% of victims of domestic violence report more than one incident. No other type of crime has such a high rate of repeat victimisation.[viii]
  • Attacks on women have risen by more than 2,000 a week nationally since the start of the recession.[ix]
  • The cost of domestic abuse to the health service is £1.7 billion per year with the major costs being to GPs and hospitals. This does not include mental health costs, estimated at an additional £176 million.[x]

So what can we do about it?

There  are a series of events starting on November 25 and continuing across the 16 Days Call to Action ending 10 December.

Please get involved, show your support, raise awareness and fundraise!

If you would like to add an event here, please email us

Monday 24 November: Women’s Aid Photo Exhibition (from 21-26 Nov)

Women’s Aid is celebrating 40 years of lifesaving work, helping abused women and children who are living with domestic violence. We are showcasing a stunning photo exhibition at Centrespace Gallery November 21st – 26th.

Open to public: Fri 21st, 11am -4pm, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm, Mon 11am-4pm, Tues & Wed 11am-6pm

Special viewing with guest speakers: Monday 24th November 6-9pm. Please arrive promptly as speeches will begin at approx. 6.30 pm. Please RSVP to if you wish to attend the special viewing evening on Monday 24th.

The National Women’s Aid Federation was set up in 1974, the first national domestic violence organisation bringing together nearly 40 refuge services across the country. For the first time there was a national body to co-ordinate the campaign for new laws and policies and to improve support for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

This exhibition features a small selection of the many thousands of people involved in the last 40 years of Women’s Aid’s history, development and achievements.

Centrespace Gallery, 6 Leonard Lane, Bristol, BS1 1EA, UK

Tuesday 25 November

Next Link will be holding it’s annual candle lit procession on Tuesday 25th November. Leaving their office at 5 Queen Square, Bristol, at 4.30pm and walking to College Green to light 2 large candles to honour the 2 women that are murdered each week by a violent partner.

Hot chocolate available from 4pm onwards.

This event is open to people of all gender identities.

Please bring a jar if you can.

It would be lovely to see you there.

Wednesday 26 November

Candlelit Walk organised by Survive from 5.45pm to raise awareness of those living with domestic abuse currently and in memory of the two women a week and one man a fortnight who die as a result of abuse. We hope you can join us – working towards freedom from domestic abuse.

“Even two years on, I still get overwhelmed when I think how much Survive helped me and my children.. I am now stronger than I could have imagined, my children are happy and we live in a loving, safe, happy home. Without Survive’s help I would have stayed with my abuser and most certainly be dead. Thank you Survive.

Thursday 27th November

Bristol Women’s Voice have organised for Police and Crime Commission Sue Mountstevens and Head of Public Protection Rachel Williams to join us to discuss their strategy for safety and the elimination of violence against women and girls in Bristol. We will also be joined by Next Link, who will be talking about their work around domestic violence in Bristol. This will be followed by a Q&A and the opportunity to influence what YOU think the Police can do to help eliminate violence against women.

This is a free event but you will need to book a place here. Bristol Women’s Voice will help low waged with transport and childcare costs – please get in touch should you require this!

Survive are also auctioning a handmade patchwork quilt

Would you like to be the owner of this beautiful patchwork quilt handmade and donated by theThursday Patchwork Quilters Group?

How do I bid: By email to

When can I bid: Between 9am Monday 24th and 5pm Friday 28th November 2014

Minimum bid: £50 (if lowest bid is under this it will not be sold)


[i] British Crime Survey shows a lifetime rate of sexual abuse or rape of 19.7%: Home Office., 2010.

Crime in England and Wales 2009/10 findings from the British crime survey and police recorded crime

(Third Edition) at p.72 [online] Based on Female population of 220000. Available at:

[ii] (England and Wales average is 22 per 100,000 population. Number includes all adult rapes including men) Her Majesty‟s Inspectorate of Constabulary, ‘Rape Monitoring Group, Adult and child rape for 2012/13’ [online] Available at:  (Accessed 23 Aug 2014)

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Based on a population of 432,500 (ONS 2012 Mid-Year Population Estimate). This model does not account for the victims who are male and/or aged over 59 years old. There are 41,500 women aged 60 years or older are living in Bristol which would result in an additional 2,905 women.

Safer Bristol Partnership Bristol Domestic & Sexual Abuse Needs Assessment[online] [Accessed 28 April 2014]

[v] 31% of women have experienced domestic violence since the age of 16. Women’s aid, 2014, ‘Statistics on Domestic Violence’ [online] Available at:  (Accessed 23 Aug 2014)

[vi] Walby, Sylvia and Allen, Jonathan (2004) Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey (London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate)

[vii] Safer Bristol Partnership Bristol Domestic & Sexual Abuse Needs Assessment[online] [Accessed 28 April 2014]

[viii] Dodd, Tricia et al., (2004) Crime in England and Wales 2003-2004 (London: Home Office).

[ix]Daily Mirror Online 28 July 2011 Recession blamed for domestic violence increase Available at:

[x] Walby S. The cost of domestic violence: update 2009, Lancaster University


Draft Commissioning Plan for Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Services.

For consultation 6 January – 28 March 2014

Safer Bristol will recommission domestic and sexual abuse services in Bristol over the next eighteen months. The new arrangements need to ensure that the service provision meets the needs of those experiencing domestic and sexual abuse. The process is co-ordinated by Safer Bristol and is managed by a Project Board which includes representatives from Bristol City Council, the Police and Mark Hubbard from Bristol Compact (based at VOSCUR).

For more info, click here.

Following an extensive informal consultation period where over 200 people gave them their views they have produced:
·         Draft Commissioning Plan
·         Needs Assessment
Please give them your views on the assessment and plan by completing their consultation questionnaire online.

Please complete the surveys asap. Closing date is Friday 28 March 2014