12 June 2024 

The news is full of cases of public services causing real harm to Black women and girls - from the treatment of Child Q in an East London school, to misogyny and racism in the Met Police, to the disproportionate use of detention and restraint in mental health wards.

Out today, Public Harms: Racism and Misogyny in Policing, Education and Mental Health Services, in partnership with Black Equity Organisation and supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, uses an anti-racist and feminist lens to review reports across these public services. It also includes also includes lived experience testimony from a call for evidence. 

Read Public Harms: Racism and Misogyny in Policing, Education and Mental Health Services

The report finds four key themes across policing, education and mental health services:

  • Excessive force and detention
  • Adultification and the 'strong Black woman' trope
  • Erasure and invisibility of Black women's experiences 
  • A 'one-size-fits-all' approach to public services 

Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

This report clearly shows that the toxic thread of misogynoir is woven into the fabric of our public services. Whenever scandals emerge they are too often treated as isolated incidents yet this report clearly shows they are not one-offs and are instead the product of public institutions built to serve the default white male. We need systemic change that recognises, respects, and reacts to the experiences of Black women. Our public services fail all of us when they fail any of us.

Timi Okuwa, Chief Executive of Black Equity Organisation said:

The evidence in this report is stark but not shocking. We all know that this is the experience of Black women, and women in general, up and down the country but nothing ultimately is being done about it. This report is a call to action: we must redesign these services to serve everyone fairly and safely because public services that deliver for Black women, will deliver for us all.

We need reform now. Public Harms recommends:

  • Ensuring reform is co-created with Black women, places their voices at the centre of solutions and change.
  • Conducting specific and nuanced reviews into misogynoir within public institutions, rather than relying on a 'one-size-fits-all' approach.
  • Collecting better intersectional data that takes account of Black women's experiences.
  • Implementing Valerie's Law.
  • Thinking beyond training and improving accountability in public institutions.
  • Enacting stronger legislation to address misogynoir outside of public institutions and in society more broadly.

Make change today.

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