This week (on 23 March) we wrote to Labour Party leader candidates Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer asking them to make specific pledges to tackle violence against women and girls if they were to become the next Labour Leader.
We are asking all candidates to commit to do the following as Leader of the Labour Party:
- Ensure the Domestic Abuse Bill for England and Wales ratifies the Istanbul Convention and contains measures to protect and support migrant victims;
- Support a Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy from 2020 onwards – a critical framework that encourages all government departments play a role in ending abuse
- Ensure justice for rape victims and scrutinise the recommendations of the end to end ‘Rape Review’;
- Recognise the critical value of specialist women’s services supporting victims of VAWG, and work to ensure they are sustainable before any more are lost.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak and the significant impact this will have on women and children experiencing VAWG, the letter also highlights the urgent need for all our political leaders to ensure contingency arrangements and spending plans for Covid 19 take into account the pressures of increased demand on helplines, refuge provision, counselling and other specialist services in the community for domestic and sexual violence survivors.
The letter says:
“Progress has been made over the last decade to respond to the different forms of abuse facing women and girls, but it is still the case that one in four women will experience domestic abuse and one in five will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime. Men and boys are also subjected to these forms of abuse, but women and girls are very disproportionately victimised as police and Government statistics show.
Whilst reporting of domestic and sexual violence to the police, and help-seeking from local support services, are at their highest ever levels, prosecution rates for rape have fallen catastrophically, meaning only 1 in 65 cases reported to the Police now end in a charge. The number of women killed by a partner or ex-partner rose sharply last year from 63 to 80, and the overall number of women and girls murdered increased by 10 percent to 241, the highest level for 14 years. We need specific policy and legislation that will prevent and reduce VAWG and political leadership that is committed to ensuring all women and girls can access support and protection when they need it.”
We hope to receive replies to our letters soon, and will publish any replies here.