Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) happens on interpersonal, societal and institutional levels — it’s time we confront it.
20 January, 2023
TW: sexual assault.
The Maya Centre is a charity providing specialist trauma support for women who’ve been victims of gender-based violence, meaning we work as an institution to foster trust between ourselves and minoritised women from all walks of life. We are appalled by the fact that a fellow institution claiming to serve and protect vulnerable women — and the wider public — has played a part in enacting the very violence we support women to disclose and recover from. This is a process that takes an enormous amount of time, trust and courage. We are, of course, referring to the news that David Carrick, a Metropolitan Police officer, has admitted to more than 80 sexual offences, including at least 48 rapes, of multiple women over an 18-year period.
Why is this case so significant?
Despite some attempts to pin Carrick as an isolated event, his case represents a systematic shortcoming of the police force regarding the safety of women and girls, as documented through many other high-profile incidents, along with trauma-inducing experiences that will likely never be revealed to the public. Last year, for instance, we publicly spoke out against shocking revelations from the Child Q investigation concerning the invasive strip search of a 15-year-old Black girl by Met police without the presence of an appropriate adult. More recently, we’ve seen law enforcement fail to treat the real and violent risk of social media influencer Andrew Tate as a matter of urgency and importance. On 29 December 2022, Tate, known as a social media influencer and figurehead for online incel culture among young men, was arrested in Romania on charges alleging his involvement in organised crime, human trafficking (of women) and rape. In 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of rape by Hertfordshire police on two occasions, with the authorities dropping both cases without further probing soon after.
Carrick’s misconduct has been raised within the force over nine times throughout the past 18 years, with the consequences of his actions only catching up to him now. How many women could we have saved from sexual violence and deep emotional wounds if effective action had been taken sooner? This gross abuse of power was enabled for so long, despite his colleagues being aware, demonstrating a culture of coverup and complicity within the ranks.
Where do we go from here?
At The Maya Centre, we work with low-income and minoritised women through free, diverse, culturally sensitive services, ranging from traditional counselling to group therapy, psychoeducation, art therapy and mind-body therapies. We’re incredibly proud of the work we do and grateful for the support we receive from funders. commissioners and individual donors. Unfortunately, we remain limited regarding the number of women we can reach and how much we can help. Moreover, whilst we treat the symptoms and life-changing effects of trauma, we can do nothing to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
This is why VAWG needs to be understood as not just an interpersonal event. The phenomenon is currently aided by a pervasive culture of misogyny that is further emboldened through the at-best indifference and at-worst malevolence of predominantly male-led institutions. Though not a minority in numbers, women as a group face social, economic and cultural forms of marginalisation which permeate every aspect of their day-to-day lives. Within this broad female group, further pockets of discrimination occur on the basis of race, disability, class and more. Despite this, misogyny is not considered a hate crime. And until this view is re-evaluated, cases like that of David Carrick will continue.