EVAW is asking the Prime Minister, and her Cabinet colleagues, to ensure that prominent election pledges aimed at improving support and justice when women are abused are followed through and do not slip.
In letters to the Prime Minister and her colleagues, which detail the extremely high prevalence of violence against women and girls across the UK – including a million domestic violence incidents a year and an estimated 85,000 rapes – the End Violence Against Women Coalition asked for pledges on new legislation, as well as a review of the way women’s support services are funded, to remain high priority.
Rachel Krys, co-director of EVAW said:
“During the election campaign, the Conservative manifesto made prominent commitments on new domestic violence legislation and a new commissioner to oversee policy and practice in this area. They also promised to review the funding of refuges – recognising that many women’s support services are really struggling.
“In a letter to our Coalition, Theresa May promised to see through the delivery of compulsory Relationships and Sex Education in UK schools – a critical means of preventing violence against women and girls. We hope to see all of these receive the necessary time in Parliament and the attention of Cabinet members and officials to make them happen soon.
“Labour also pledged in their manifesto to create a commissioner and to tackle the funding crisis facing our support services. We hope that in Opposition they will scrutinise and push forward policy and change in this area at every opportunity.
“Critically, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens all promised in their manifestos to maintain the Human Rights Act. Many women, including those who have been failed by the police after experiencing abuse or sexual violence, have relied on the Human Rights Act to hold them to account and push for improvements in the system.
“We expect to see women’s human rights defended and protected no matter what “deals” are struck in the coming days and months, and as Brexit is negotiated. Women’s human rights – the right to live free from violence, the right to physical autonomy, the right to an education, and the right to healthcare including access to safe abortions – must never be negotiated away.”
- There are extremely high levels of violence against women and girls in the UK. Around 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year and more than a million women were victims of domestic violence last year (ONS). Around two women are killed every week by a current or ex-partner (Femicide Census). It is estimated that more than 135,000 women and girls affected by FGM live in England and Wales (City University, 2014). A third of girls report having experienced sexual harassment at school (YouGov for EVAW, 2010) and 85% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed in public places (YouGov for EVAW 2016).
- Since around 2010 the Government has had a strategy to end violence against women and girls which aims to bring down rates of violence and increase reporting. The Government has regularly consulted women’s organisations on what should be in this strategy and how best to implement it. It has helped to increase the use of independent advocates to support survivors of abuse. The strategy put the spotlight on forms of abuse including child sexual abuse, FGM and forced marriage.
- All of the party manifestos contained commitments to tackle violence against women and girls. EVAW reviewed the manifestos.
- Teresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders wrote to EVAW during the campaign detailing their commitments.
- EVAW members shared their Priorities for Government during the campaign.
- Photo credit: No10 The Prime Minister’s Office