Government scores 2/10 on tackling violence against women
Jess McCabe // 2 April 2008
The UK government scored only two out of 10 in an assessment of how it is addressing violence against women. You can read the whole report – by the End Violence Against Women coalition – here.
One of the co-authors of the report, Janet Veitch, has a piece in the New Statesman going over the highlights:
The Government’s overall score this year is a very disappointing 2 out of 10, the same as last year. The report welcomes initiatives such as Specialist Domestic Violence Courts and Sexual Assault Referral Centres but shows that the overall approach is patchy and mostly focused on the criminal justice system.
This is short-sighted. As the New Statesman Rape Crisis campaign has highlighted, the vast majority of victims (around 80%) do not report to the police, so their case never enters the criminal justice system. Rape Crisis Centres, domestic violence refuges and other specialist services offer routes out of violence and support for women through the justice system that enable them to move on with their lives. And yet, there is a postcode lottery in the provision of these life-saving services. It is astonishing that a third of local authorities across the UK don’t have such services at all. Furthermore, fewer than one in ten have specialist services for ethnic minority women (addressing issues like forced marriage) and where they do exist they are threatened with significant funding cuts or even closure (as in the case of Southall Black Sisters).
This is sober, but necessary reading. As well as identifying lamentable failures of implementation, Veitch also asks some hard questions about the failures to imagine and put in place measures to prevent violence against women occuring in the first place:
Conviction rates for all forms of violence against women are still very low, so perpetrators go unpunished. Furthermore, there is no plan of action to actually prevent violence from happening. Where are the public campaigns to challenge attitudes that tolerate violence? Why is there no requirement on schools to address issues like healthy relationships or consent to sex when surveys consistently show unhealthy attitudes justifying and condoning violence amongst young men in particular?