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AVON GLOBAL AMBASSADOR REESE WITHERSPOON SIGNS PETITION TO CALL FOR BETTER SERVICES FOR WOMEN EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Reese Witherspoon supports Avon and Refuge's groundbreaking new campaign at the Houses of Parliament

London, December 02, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — Reese Witherspoon, Global Ambassador for Avon, headlined a press conference at the House of Commons today to promote a powerful new campaign against domestic violence. The campaign has been launched jointly by Avon Cosmetics and Refuge, the national domestic violence charity. The event saw Reese Witherspoon become the 1353rd person to sign a petition to call for more Government support for women experiencing domestic violence in the UK.

The event marks the mid-point in "16 Days of Activism" which began on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Avon and Refuge's FOUR WAYS TO SPEAK OUT campaign urges people to speak out against domestic violence in four simple ways:

  • Buy and wear an Avon empowerment necklace
  • Sign a petition calling for the UK Government to provide more support services for abused women and children
  • Download a poster to display in your local community so that women know where to get help
  • Invite your friends and family to join the campaign

A team of powerful female panellists joined Reese Witherspoon at the event. She sat alongside Anna Segatti, President of Avon UK and Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a human rights barrister and Patron of Refuge opened the speeches for the morning and domestic violence survivor, Wendy Turner Webster, joined the panel to tell her own story. Lynda Waltho MP acted as the host.

Says Reese Witherspoon, Avon's Global Ambassador:
"Women involved in domestic violence situations often find it difficult to reach out to others for help. We can all play a role in bringing this issue to light and breaking the silence that surrounds it. That's why I'm so proud to be here to launch Avon and Refuge's FOUR WAYS TO SPEAK OUT campaign. Together we can make a difference. Together we have the power to raise awareness, provide support, and increase the funding for this vital cause."

Also announced at today's conference are the results of new research commissioned by Avon and Refuge into perceptions of domestic violence in the UK, which reveals more than nine in 10 people (92%) claim they don't know anyone experiencing domestic violence. That's despite official statistics showing that one in four women in England and Wales experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. The research also shows over half of the people questioned (54%) wouldn't know where to turn if they did suspect someone they knew was experiencing domestic violence.

Says Anna Segatti, President of Avon UK:
"As the company for women, empowering women by supporting vital causes like this is part of our DNA. It's an ugly reality that domestic violence affects one in four women in the UK and the majority of people who think they know someone experiencing domestic violence wouldn't know where to turn because the services simply aren't there. Today's event gives something tangible to all those women and men who are either not aware of this silent pandemic or would not know where to turn if they thought someone was suffering."

Says Sandra Horley, OBE, Chief Executive of Refuge:
"It's a shocking fact that one in three local authorities provide no domestic violence services for women whatsoever. Where are abused women supposed to go to get help? What can they do? To whom can they turn? Refuge and Avon have launched this campaign to urge the Government to put an end to this postcode lottery, and to raise awareness of the huge issue of domestic violence. Everyone everywhere must speak out. By failing to speak out against domestic violence, we make ourselves part of the problem.

"Refuge is incredibly grateful to Avon for its unstinting support over the last two years. In this current economic climate, where many corporates are tightening the purse strings, it is a huge reassurance to have such a dedicated partner. With Avon's help we have been able to reach many more women and children living in the terrifying grip of domestic violence."

Avon has supported Refuge for the last two years, donating 80% of the UK proceeds of its empowerment necklace and bracelet to support services for abused women and children. The remaining 20% is donated to UNIFEM in the UK. Worldwide sales have raised $8.1 million, which has gone towards funding programmes in 53 countries. Avon UK has pledged to more than double its support for domestic violence charities in 2010.

Contacts:

Avon Products, Inc.
Natalie Deacon
+44 (0)7725 150853
Elizabeth P. Bergman
212.282.8197