The original six-month campaign used four posters to raise awareness about the reality and prevalence of child sexual abuse, rape and sexual assault, and domestic violence. Based on research and rooted in the experience of women and children, the posters used black and white photography and text to challenge existing attitudes. The campaign generated overwhelming interest and support at a local and national level.
The campaign was designed to run in four phases with separate posters. The first three posters tackled specific aspects of violence against women with the final posters linking the issues together. The approach has been found to be very effective.
The first poster dealt with the extent of child sexual abuse: ‘By the time they reach 18, one of them will have been subjected to sexual abuse’. The image used deliberately challenged the prevailing view that child sexual abuse is a working class problem and linked to poverty and unemployment. The definition of child sexual abuse is carefully chosen to make the point that all forms of sexual abuse of children - from flashing to rape - are damaging and part of a continuum of abuse.
The rape poster directly addressed the myth that only young, attractive women are subjected to rape and sexual assault: ‘From three to ninety three - women are raped’. As with the child sexual abuse poster the image locates the violence in a domestic environment to reinforce the message that most incidents of sexual assault are not perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys. The strapline – ‘Husband, father, stranger - Male abuse of power is a crime’ - highlights the reality for women and children that they are more at risk from men they know.
The third poster dealt with domestic violence and again challenges the widely accepted myth that domestic violence only occurs in working class households: ‘She lives with a successful businessman, loving father and respected member of the community. Last week he hospitalised her’. In addition this poster identifies emotional and sexual abuse as forms of domestic violence.
The final poster links all three previous posters and issues under a unifying slogan – ‘No Man Has the Right’. This gives a powerful message to women and children about the rights they have and, at the same time, to men about those they do not.
In line with the principles of Zero Tolerance, only strong, positive images of women were used in the posters. This helps to convey the message that much violence against women is unseen, unheard and unspoken.
The posters were displayed on billboards, adshel sites, buses and distributed to shops, restaurants and pubs as well as local council venues such as libraries, community centres and council buildings. Partnerships with the local and national media proved a key component in the success of the first campaign and have been used in all subsequent campaigning. At the same time local events were organised. These included seminars for professionals working in key areas and debates which the general public could attend.
In response to a demand for a poster targeting and featuring young people, a fifth poster was produced which addressed the issue of sexual assault – ‘When they say no, they mean no. Some men don't listen’. The campaign quickly gained national media attention and requests for information and materials came from individuals and organisations throughout the UK and beyond. Before long, other councils wanted to duplicate the success of the Edinburgh campaign in their own local areas.