Sign petition demanding 24-hour helpline for victims of rape and sexual assault

// 15 May 2008

A petition has been set up calling for a 24-hour helpline for victims of rape and sexual assault – you can sign it here. If they get 200 signatures, the PM apparently has to respond – perhaps he has a good reason why this service hasn’t been set up yet!

This is the first campaign by At the Root, a new radical feminist group and blog. (H/T Mary)

Full text of the petition:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Provide the funding to set up a National 24 Hour Helpline for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault.

Far too many people in the UK do not have access to a Rape Crisis centre or a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. The facilities that do exist for victims of rape and sexual assault are seriously stretched, as they struggle with not enough funding and not enough staff.

In those areas where victims do have access to a Rape Crisis Centre or SARC, people often have difficulty getting through on the telephone, and once through, cannot always talk for as long as is needed due to other pressures on the over-worked staff.

It is time that the funding and expertise were put in place to set up a National 24 Hour Helpline for victims of rape and sexual assault. It is very much needed, in this country where rape and sexual assault are prevelant, yet the conviction rate for these crimes is at an all time low.

The government must take this issue seriously, and setting up a national 24 hour helpline would be a vital step in helping the thousands of victims who have no access to a Rape Crisis Centre or SARC.”

Comments From You

Debs // Posted 16 May 2008 at 8:27 am

Thanks so much for promoting this Jess! :D

Kirsty // Posted 16 May 2008 at 10:57 am

I have signed, and have emailed all my friends asking them to sign too, and to pass it on.

BrevisMus // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:56 pm

“If they get 200 signatures, the PM apparently has to respond”

Not quite. This is taken from the FAQ page:

“Once your petition has closed, usually provided there are 200 signatures or more, it will be passed to officials who work for the Prime Minister in Downing Street, or sent to the relevant Government department for a response.”

Note the word ‘usually’ and the fact it is an official or a government department, not the PM himself (which is a good thing, otherwise Gordon would be spending all day writing back to petitioners, rather than actually doing anything useful).

As you can probably tell from the above bracket, I’m actually very anti-petitions – I think they’re just a way for people to feel like they’ve made a difference, without actually really doing anything and making little effort. If all the people who sign a petition write to their MPs about the issue then that’s more likely to do something, in my opinion.

Please note: I’m not specifically talking about this petition (which is a campaign I’m behind 100%), I’m talking about petitions in general. Since No 10 had their online petitions site set up, the whole country has gone petitions mad, to the extent that a lot of people feel that if they have signed a petition then the government are automatically required to change the law, and then complain if the government – for whatever reason – refuses. I ranted about them last year

So my advice – sure, sign the petition. But please don’t expect that the petition on its own is going to change things (although I would love it if it did! :) ). Personally, I’m going to write to my MP

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 May 2008 at 2:13 pm

BrevisMus: I agree. Petitions are of limited value on their own, and perhaps the urge to do something does dissipate once one has been signed.

However, I would argue that writing to your MP is not much better – I’ve had a bit of success with mine, for example alerting them about specific stuff going on in Parliament. But, still, I always feel like there should be something beyond this that it’s possible to get people to take part in…

Lindsey // Posted 16 May 2008 at 3:09 pm

I think they have to say things like “usually” so that they have space to ignore stupid petitions, like the 30,000+ who signed for Jeremy Clarkson to be made Prime Minister.

It would be awesome if this was taken into consideration, I don’t know how they would justify denying it as it wouldn’t be that difficult to organise.

Debs // Posted 16 May 2008 at 3:53 pm

The petition is part of a larger campaign being launched by At the Root soon (ie as soon as I’ve finished putting it together!) – details will be up on the website when its done.

Cara // Posted 16 May 2008 at 8:06 pm

I have signed.

If I may give a small plug :-)

Another petition, which I created, on violence against women:

Lesley-Anne Morrison // Posted 21 April 2009 at 1:07 pm

This is much needed.I think ideally it should be an 0800 or 0300 prefixed number, as many women (who are more likely to live in poverty) are unable to contact the helplines that already exist due to their inability to have the financial means to make that call.

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