Campaigner made OBE calls for ‘battalion’ to tackle violence against women

·2-min read
Alexis Bowater, who has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to the Safety and Equality of Women in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Alexis Bowater, who has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for services to the Safety and Equality of Women in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Society should be a “battalion” against violence towards women, a campaigner who has been made an OBE has said.

Journalist Alexis Bowater is honoured for spending the past decade working to combat violence against women and girls after a man was jailed for stalking her in 2009.

She said the issue is “everybody’s responsibility” and that society must have a conversation about it.

Ms Bowater told PA: “I think it’s really important to understand that violence against women and girls is the new pandemic.

This is the backdrop to the theatre of the lives of 51% of the population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this is not a problem that is going away

Alexis Bowater

“This is not a criminal justice issue. It’s a public health issue. It’s an issue for all of us.

“The statistics are stark: one in five women will be stalked at some point in their lives. One in four women will be seriously sexually assaulted or raped. One in four women will be subjected to some form of domestic violence. And two women a week are being murdered by their partners or ex-partners.

“This is the backdrop to the theatre of the lives of 51% of the population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, this is not a problem that is going away. It’s a problem that we all need to address collectively as a society.

“The behaviour that we walk past is the behaviour that we tolerate and it’s the behaviour that we have to live with. So what we need to do, is be a battalion and work together meaningfully to change things for the better.”

Her campaigning has seen a statue of Nancy Astor, the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament, erected in Plymouth on the centenary of her election.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

She has also pushed for new stalking protection laws in the UK.

Asked about being made an OBE, Ms Bowater added: “I was enormously proud. And I felt very privileged.

“I felt as if I was being overwhelmed by a sudden sense of imposter syndrome. But I think that that’s something that a lot of us women share.

“But once I fully understood the privilege and position that I’ve been placed in, there’s a reason it’s called the honour system and that’s exactly how it makes you feel.”

She went on to say the timing of the honour close to the Platinum Jubilee is “astonishing” as her grandfather was at the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

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