A broad coalition of women’s organisations working to end abuse of women in all its forms – domestic violence, sexual violence, FGM, forced marriage, stalking, trafficking, prostitution and online abuse – has published an in-depth review of the party manifestos’ many and prominent pledges on ending abuse, and is encouraging its supporters to contact their local candidates before 8 June.
End Violence Against Women Coalition Co-Director Sarah Green said:
“Changes in law, policy and funding can make a huge difference to whether women and girls experience violence in the first place, and to whether they are protected and able to seek justice if it does happen. These prominent pledges are welcome, and we need to see the next Government ensures that the needs of ALL women and girls are part of policy making in this area.”
The party manifestos include:
Conservative and Labour commitments to set up a new independent Commissioner to represent abuse survivors and scrutinise policy and spending in this area – which is extremely welcome and understood to be in recognition of the hugely increased reporting of these crimes, and the need for specialist, independent scrutiny and advocacy to drive the response to them forward;
Conservative, Labour and Lib Dems promise a ‘victims law’ which would enshrine rights to a good standard of response from the police and courts;
Commitments on the funding of support services – Conservatives promise a review of refuge funding, while Labour promises a ‘National Refuge Fund’ and stable funding for rape crisis centres;
Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) promise to scrap the child tax credits “rape clause” (which requires survivors of rape to “prove” they have been raped before accessing tax credits);
Conservatives are aiming to reduce asylum claims as well as net immigration, and make no reference to the particular needs of women facing abuse caught in these two systems. Whereas Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and WEP all commit to reducing or ending indefinite immigration detention, and Greens and WEP address gender-based asylum claims;
Labour, Lib Dems, Green and WEP all commit to retain the Human Rights Act indefinitely, while Conservatives say they will keep it until Brexit is complete (the ‘HRA’ is a critical tool for ensuring women have access to justice in abuse cases);
Conservatives make a large focus on online abuse, including bullying, ‘grooming’ and their aim of ensuring abuse online is sanctioned as seriously as that offline; they say this will heavily encourage internet companies to take action;
The parties all commit to compulsory Relationships and Sex Education in all schools as a key way of preventing abuse – this was not so at the last election and follows recent, successful cross-party campaigning for the measure.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition has published its own ‘Priorities for Government’, addressed to the next Government, which calls for reform across the criminal justice system and other public services, sustainable funding for life-saving support services, and the retention the Human Rights Act. The EVAW Coalition has also created a toolkit for supporters whom it is encouraging to contact their local Parliamentary candidates.