Violence against women and girls is experienced at epidemic levels nationally. It has devastating effects on women and their children, on families and communities. We need cross government coordination and investment to prevent its recurrence and to support and protect all survivors so they can achieve independence, freedom and liberation from oppression. The General Election 2019 is a chance for political parties to demonstrate their commitment to women’s equality and our right to live free from violence and abuse. We are joining forces with 29 women’s organisations across the UK to support the Women’s and Girl’s Manifesto, call for a comprehensive framework of equal protection and support for survivors of all forms of violence against women and girls.
For this to meaningfully happen any parties forming the next government should commit to the following:
- A Violence Against Women and Girls Bill for England and Wales to transform responses to women and girls, within an equalities and human rights framework.
- Reform of the family justice system so it supports and protects children and non-abusive parents to live free from violence and abuse.
- Victim-blaming attitudes and judgements regarding consent and sexual history to be challenged within the criminal justice system.
- A new offence on strangulation be included in proposed legislation that recognises it as a serious assault, a tool of control and a threat to life.
- A framework for support and protection that addresses all the intersectional barriers that lead to abuse, homelessness, destitution, and exploitation amongst all migrant women.
- Investment in secure and sustainable funding for domestic and sexual abuse specialist services and women’s centres, ensuring equivalent additional funding being allocated to support specialist organisations in Wales.
- Ratification and implementation of the International Labour Organisation Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment at Work.
- A welfare system that supports survivors to be financially independent and to live free from abuse. This must include an immediate reversal of the two-child tax credit limit and implementation of split payments as default for Universal Credit.
- The protection of women’s rights within Brexit planning and post Brexit arrangements, particularly ensuring recognition that women living with domestic abuse as a ‘vulnerable’ group in terms of accessing the EU Settled Status.
- Equal protection under legislation for disabled survivors experiencing coercive control which is effectively implemented by the justice system.
- Ensuring online companies take action to prevent and hold accountable perpetrators of sexual harassment, abuse and violence that disproportionally affects girls and women, and ensuring online space is safe and supportive for all women and girls.
- Addressing of commercial sexual exploitation by targeting demand, and decriminalising women and providing support or financial independence for women to exit the sex industry.
- To strengthen legal protection and support for survivors of violence against women who commit an offence, and action to prevent women affected by abuse, trauma, mental ill-health, poverty, homelessness and addiction, from entering the criminal justice system.
For more information and supporting evidence please click here.