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EVAW Bulletin, March 2015

 

EVAW discusses sexual assaults in universities with Vince Cable

 

Wales leads the way with new VAWG Bill

 

More pressure for compulsory Sex & Relationships Education

 

Refuge funding welcomed, but disappointment that Istanbul Convention won’t be ratified

 

EVAW discusses sexual assaults in universities with Vince Cable

EVAW met with Vince Cable MP to discuss the contents of our legal briefing on UK universities’ obligations to ensure women students are safe and equal while they study. The Business Secretary recognised the seriousness of sexual assault in universities and that it is unacceptable for universities not to respond adequately. EVAW spoke on a #reclaimyourcampus panel at NUS women’s conference about this last week and notes that some universities are investigating reports of misognynistic and threatening behaviour.

 

Wales leads the way with new VAWG Bill

EVAW was delighted that the National Assembly in Wales passed the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Bill this month following consultation with our members Welsh Women’s Aid and BAWSO among others. It is the first of its kind across the UK in recognising relationships education and women’s specialist support services as essential in ending and preventing abuse of women and girls. The celebratory atmosphere was still in evidence when EVAW attended the fantastic #stillwerise Welsh Women’s Aid conference last weekend.

 

More pressure for compulsory Sex & Relationships Education

The Prime Minister responded to the publication of the serious case review into child sexual exploitation in Oxford this month with a commitment to make CSE a bigger policing priority. EVAW called for more action to tackle the roots of this form of abuse, including through compulsory Sex & Relationships Education (SRE). Days later Education Secretary Nicky Morgan published new guidance on the teaching of sexual consent, but again confirmed that whether or not ‘consent lessons’ were ever delivered was to be left at the discretion of individual schools.

 

EVAW Co-Chair Marai Larasi spoke at an event in Parliament hosted by Labour’s Shadow VAWG Minister Seema Malhotra MP where teachers, parents and others were invited to share their experiences of teaching young people about relationships, respect, FGM, sexual harassment and more. Seema Malhotra and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to making SRE compulsory if Labour is elected.

 

The positions of all the political parties on SRE are set out in letters to EVAW here. EVAW debated some of the issues in a Spectator podcast this month with columnist Melanie Phillips.

 

Refuge funding welcomed, but disappointment that Istanbul Convention won’t be ratified

EVAW welcomed the Government’s announcement of where a £10m fund to stop refuges closing would be spent this month. But like many of our members we were also hugely disappointed to learn that the Government will not ratify the Istanbul Convention – the European Convention on Violence Against Women – before the election, despite signing it in 2012. The Convention includes measures to ensure that women and girls can access adequate support services like refuges, and we urge the next Government to ratify without delay.

 

The question of ensuring sustainable funding for women’s services including refuges, Rape Crisis helplines and specialist BME women’s organisations arose in an election hustings at the Equality & Diversity Forum this month. Conservative Margot James MP said there is a strong case for ringfencing funding for these services in future, and Labour’s Diana Johnson and the Green Party’s Benali Hamdache agreed that the services are essential and need protection. EVAW is writing formally to all parties during the election campaign asking them to set out their policies in this area in full.

 

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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