Thursday, 28 June 2007

Change of government - what does that mean for the End Violence Against Women campaign?

by Janet Veitch, Vice Chair, EVAW

Watching TV and reading the papers it seems everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what changes our new Prime Minister will bring in when he takes over this week. Lots of hints have been dropped – so what will this mean for women and tackling violence against women?

This government has done more than any other to work on violence against women. But the statistics are still appalling and there are still shocking gaps in services. The British Crime Survey show that around half of all women experience some form of violence – rape, domestic violence, stalking, harassment....So what can Gordon Brown do to make a difference?

First, VAW has to be recognised as rooted in women’s inequality. Gender inequality is built into children from an early age – and when you consider the prevalence of domestic violence – it affects one in four women, and one in four pregnant women – and child abuse, it’s easy to see where children get the idea it’s ok for a man to hit an women. Domestic violence itself is based on men’s control over women – and this is often financial control. So while woman live in an unequal society, violence is likely to remain endemic.

The things that will make a difference to women on the ground are:

  • work in schools to stop the attitudes that lead to violence
  • better quality prosecutions – only 12% of women report a rape, and of these, 95% will see the accused walk free
  • better support services to help women recover from years of abuse.

The government can help by putting money into these things – but also by organising the government machine so that targets can be set to end violence against women, so that the achievement of these targets can be checked, and we can track where things are getting better and intervene where they are not. Important government targets are published in Public Service Agreements – we need one on violence against women to show that this issue is being taken seriously. The election of Harriet Harman this week as deputy Leader of the Labour Party is a very good sign that this will be given priority – Harriet worked hard as Minister for Women to build a strategy on violence against women, and set clear targets for action. A violence against women strategy at the highest level would bring together all the work that different departments are doing and coordinate it effectively, and put resources in where they are needed.

Most of all, of course, a word from our new Prime Minister on the importance of ending this scourge would send the most powerful signal of all – that this has his personal support.

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At 1 August 2007 at 21:14 , Anonymous Cheyla said...

I have been reading several VAW documents/articles such as the End Violence Against Women's Gender Equality intergated approach paper. I am so encouraged and impressed with the progressive work being done by you and others in the UK. The One in Three campaign to raise global awareness of violence against women, seeks progressive ideas and strategies to end VAW so that we can share them with international VAW programs. In the U.S. programs have become territorial and very bureaucratic and have lost many of the voices of survivors so prominent in the 1070 and'80's. When programs began to accept criminal justice funding everything changed, and not for the better. One in Three was created to work outside of the mainstream to share information globally, create interconnectedness between internation VAW workers and programs. Congratulations on the groundbreaking work you are doing. Please keep posting information so we can update your progress.
We'd like to feature your work in a newsletter in the future.

In the spirit of Friendship and Peace,

Co-founder, One in Three


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