by Steve Beasant on 25 November, 2015
Today is the Comprehensive Spending Review and all eyes will be on The Chancellor. However, it is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marking an issue that affects all of us in the UK and across the globe.
Here in the UK domestic violence continues to be a horrific, often hidden scar on our society. Websites such as Counting Dead Women are a terrible reminder of the human cost of violence against women. Figures show that one in four women will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime and two women are killed by partners each week. It is incomprehensible to me that more isn’t being done to eliminate this abhorrent crime.
We need to make sure that women feel they can speak out and get the help they need so they aren’t left trapped in their own homes. Women’s Aid have said that on average a woman will have suffered 35 separate incidents of domestic violence before going to the police. We need to ask ourselves why.
One of the main reasons is that if a woman leaves the family home she may not feel she has another safe place to go or be confident she can take her children. This is where shelters and refuges offer a service to vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn.
At today’s Autumn Statement, and in the forthcoming local government settlement George Osborne and the Tories are expected to announce further cuts. This will undoubtedly impact on the provision of refuges and shelters for victims of domestic violence which receive funding from local councils. These vital services are in the firing line and they shouldn’t be. They are the sanctuaries that give women the space, time and protection they need to safely think and rebuild their lives.
In Coalition, my colleague Norman Baker ring-fenced £40m for local support services and national helplines dealing with domestic violence. However, with budgets being slashed, shelters and refuges will close down or have to turn women away due to a lack of capacity.
More widely, a holistic approach is needed if we want to eliminate domestic violence once and for all. One of our last acts in Coalition was to introduce a new oﬀence of coercive and controlling behaviour in the Serious Crime Bill and this Government must remain on the look out to ensure women have legal recourse. There needs to be a joined up approach to ensure that women are empowered to leave abusive relationships and supported in rebuilding their lives.
Tim Farron is Leader of the Liberal Democrats, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and a former President of the Liberal Democrats.Leave a comment