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EVAW Bulletin, April 2015: General Election Special
What will the parties do to end violence against women & girls?
EVAW has written to the leaders of the five UK-wide party leaders asking them to set out their policies to end violence against women and girls. We enclosed our own Women’s Safety Manifesto and asked if they would make specific commitments on: sustainable funding for women’s support services, compulsory Sex & Relationships Education, the detention of asylum-seeking women, policy on prostitution, harmful media images, and local responses to abuse.
We have received responses from David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband which we have published on our website, alongside a review of key pledges relating to violence against women and girls in the Conservatives, Green, Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP manifestos. This is what we have found:
Ending violence against women features prominently - Policies aimed at ending violence against women & girls feature prominently in specific sections in four of the five UK-wide manifestos (Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib Dem).
Funding for women’s specialist support services - Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Lib Dems make commitments to ensuring sustainable funding for specialist women’s support services.
Compulsory Sex & Relationships Education - Greens, Labour and Lib Dems are committed to compulsory Sex & Relationships Education (SRE) in all schools as a critical measure for preventing abuse in the long-term.
Child sexual abuse and exploitation - All of the manifestos note the exposure of historic and recent child sexual abuse and exploitation since the last election, and make specific commitments to respond to this. Conservatives will see the Westminster child sexual abuse inquiry through, and will continue an overhaul of the statutory response to CSE. Labour will set up a cross-government ‘child protection unit,’ will make the reporting of child abuse mandatory and will introduce compulsory Sex & Relationships Education (SRE) as a way of detecting and preventing this form of abuse. Lib Dems and Greens will ensure sexual consent is taught in SRE as a way of preventing abuse. Watch party representatives talk to Cosmo about SRE here.
Pornography and harmful media - Conservatives will introduce age verification for pornography websites (this pledge now matched by Labour) and bring in age ratings for music videos. Greens will tackle the high street sale of ‘lads mags’ and pornography.
Asylum-seeking women - Greens and Lib Dems will end indefinite immigration detention. Labour will end the detention of asylum seeking women who have been subject to sexual violence, and set up an independent inquiry into allegations of abuse at Yarls Wood. The Coalition Government is already reviewing the immigration detention of ‘vulnerable people’. Read our member Women for Refugee Women’s blog for more detail on this.
Foreign and development policy - Four of the five manifestos make commitments on mainstreaming gender equality policies and policy to end violence against women and girls in their foreign and international development policies (Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib Dem).
Legal aid - Labour and the Lib Dems are committed to reviewing access to legal aid for survivors of abuse.
Human Rights legislation - Conservatives and UKIP are both clear that they will abolish the Human Rights Act and the UK connection to the European Court of Human Rights.
End Violence Against Women Coalition Acting Director Sarah Green said:
“We are pleased to see policy to end and prevent abuse of women and girls feature prominently in these election manifestos. We know that many of these issues feature highly on voters’ lists of concerns, and it is clear that politicians across the parties are responding to that.
“Commitments to ensure women’s specialist support services, like refuges, helplines and BME women’s services, are sustainably funded are very welcome. These services are literally life-saving and provide the best chance for women and girls to move on after abuse. We and our members will be monitoring all developments and implementation in this area.
“We also welcome the clear commitment of three of the parties to compulsory Sex & Relationships Education. We know a huge majority of the public see this as a ‘common sense’ and overdue measure. We look forward to it being discussed in the House of Commons soon.
“Many of our member organisations are concerned at proposals to repeal human rights legislation because it have been used to hold to account the police and others when they have failed to protect women and girls. We urge caution on this and that women’s organisations and legal experts be consulted.
“We are living in a time of enormous revelation about abuse of women and girls, past and present, and changing public attitudes to it. We believe the tendency to blame victims is slowly being eroded and there is increased understanding of survivors’ needs. It is essential that our political leaders respond to and even lead this opinion so that we can truly aim to prevent abuse in the future.”
Please support our campaigning for a safer world for women and girls by making a donation. Every penny helps so many thanks!
We are very grateful for the support of all our supporters and funders, including Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Rosa, JMG, Trust for London and Amnesty International UK.
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For more information about EVAW see www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk
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