Demonstrators will urge government to make sex education compulsory
11:47am Friday 7th March 2014 in Politics
PROTESTS are to take place in Bolton, Manchester and Westminster tomorrow urging the government to introduce a new mandatory sex education programme.
The campaign, YES Matters, was started by Gemma Aitchison, the sister of murdered teenager Sasha Marsden.
Ms Aitchison, aged 27, from Westhoughton, was outraged when the House of Lords voted against a compulsory personal, social and health education programme (PSHE), despite the Department of Education recommending it be adopted.
The demonstrations start at 10.30am in Victoria Square outside Bolton Town Hall, and will be mirrored by protests outside Downing Street and Albert Square, Manchester.
Ms Aitchison has previously had meetings with Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and Bolton West MP Julie Hilling about the sexual objectification of women in society.
Mr Miliband, Bolton-born actress Maxine Peake, Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi and the campaign group No More Page 3 have sent messages of support ahead of the protests.
Ms Aitchison said: “Children are exposed at an early age to messages about sexuality and relationships, including objectifying messages that have the effect of normalising sexual assault and victim blaming.
“Children deserve to be taught about healthy, consensual relationships.”
A Girl Guide survey from 2013 found that seven out of 10 girls aged 13 to 21 reported experiences of sexual harassment at school or college, while 87 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 think women are judged more for their looks than ability.
Ms Aitchison added: “People contacted me on Facebook about staging protests elsewhere and I’ve visited them to give them T-shirts and signs.”
Labour peer Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, a member of the Lords’ shadow education team, said: “The emphasis of mandatory sex and relationships education should be about the complex emotional, rather than physical aspects of relationships.
“It should be taught in all key stages, in all state funded schools, in an accurate, balanced and age appropriate way.”
Sasha was murdered in Blackpool at the age of 16 after being lured to a hotel by its owner, David Minto, in January, 2013. Minto was found guilty of her killing in July, 2013, and given life imprisonment.
For more information about YES Matters visit yes-matters.co.uk
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