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Westminster Academics organise symposium addressing sexual violence against women and girls

28 June 2016

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On Friday 17 June, a one-day symposium, 'Sexual Violence Against Women: Voice and Representation', took place at the St Pancras Room, Kings Place, London.

Organised by Dr Georgina Colby, Lecturer in English, and Hannah Camplin, Lecturer in Law at the University of Westminster, the symposium brought together speakers from across the Humanities, Law, and public-facing bodies, to address the issues surrounding sexual violence against women and girls.

Dr Georgina Colby and Hannah Camplin were honoured to welcome Professor Jacqueline Rose (FBA) and Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, and former Director of Public Prosecutions, to give two keynote addresses.

The afternoon sessions consisted of two panels of speakers. The first panel explored issues of belief and credibility. Deborah Singer, MBA, Policy and Research Manager at Asylum Aid; Dr Carlene Firmin, MBE, Senior Research Fellow and director of the MsUnderstood project; and Akima Thomas, Director of the Women and Girls Network gave three important and stimulating papers that drew on their work in the area.

The second panel brought together scholars of literature and writers to explore the way in which the Arts and Humanities can empower women's voices and enact change in the area of sexual violence against women and girls. Dr Jennifer Cooke, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Loughborough and founder of the Gendered Lives Research Group; Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Durham; and UNA, author of Becoming Unbecoming, offered enlightening papers that took up issues of sexual violence, voice and representation in literature, film and art.

The day brought to light the importance of a cross-disciplinary approach to addressing the issues surrounding sexual violence against women and girls.

Speaking about the aims of the symposium, Dr Colby stated: “In bringing the disciplines of Law and the Humanities into dialogue with public-facing bodies, we hope to foster solidarity and to create the conditions for bringing about positive change in the area of sexual violence against women and girls.”

A full report of the day, along with related materials and papers from the symposium are available at the Network for Contemporary Feminisms website.

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