Scottish Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid Federation of England and Women’s Aid Federation of Northern Ireland have joined the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) Step up! Campaign, launched on 25th May. Step Up! calls on national and international decision-makers to promote and protect the rights of women survivors of violence, and their children, to access specialist services throughout Europe.
1 in 3 women in Europe experience domestic and sexual violence, and in the UK there is no sign that our high levels of domestic abuse and violence are diminishing..
Today, the WAVE Network launched the European campaign Step up! In the next two years, WAVE members will promote the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access specialist support and protection throughout Europe.
As part of this campaign, Women’s Aid Federations across the UK are calling on governments, police and local authorities to step up their efforts to:
(1) provide sustainable funding for specialist services that meet the needs of women and children, build on their strengths and help them achieve independence and freedom from abuse.
(2) actively support prevention and protection for victims of violence against women and advocate for women’s and children’s human rights to safety and autonomy
(3) recognise that quality support services for women must include provision by independent women’s organisations that place women’s needs and rights at the heart of their work
Violence against women and girls remains the most widespread form of human rights violation. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner or ex-partner.
Eleri Butler, Chief Executive, Welsh Women’s Aid, said:
“Women worldwide experience physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse every day, and here in Wales violence against women continues to be a significant problem that hinders women’s ability to participate fully in local communities and achieve equality. The government estimates 1 in 10 women in Wales experience domestic abuse each year and has introduced a range of measures designed to prevent abuse and protect and support victims. Yet we know far too many women still do not always able to get the help they need when they need it.
“That is why Welsh Women’s Aid has joined the WAVE Step Up! campaign, which calls on funders to make sure no woman is turned away from accessing critical support services delivered by refuges, rape support centres, and specialist support for Black and minority women. These services in Wales have been supporting families affected by domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women for decades. They provide safety and support with housing, health, and legal matters, alongside help to recover from abuse and to achieve independence. They also support families in the community who do not need, or cannot access, a refuge, or who do not want to leave their relationship.”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Federation England, said:
“We are proud to support this campaign. The situation for domestic abuse survivors and their children in England is dire, and their access to vital services is dwindling. On just one day in 2015, our Annual Survey found that 92 woman and 75 children were turned away from refuge. For nearly half of these women, it was because there was not enough space for them. This is a snapshot of a Europe-wide crisis. We need decisive action from our leaders, and we need it urgently. An average of two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Our government must step up – now.”
Scottish Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Dr Marsha Scott, said:
“Scotland has some of the best policies and legislation in the world for tackling domestic abuse and violence against women, including Equally Safe, which places domestic abuse firmly in the context of all the dimensions of women’s oppression and inequality. But good policy hasn’t yet transformed the lives of women and children, too many of whom continue to live with domestic abuse and for whom appropriate services are increasingly difficult to find.
“On any given day in Scotland, Women’s Aid and other domestic abuse services support more than 1000 women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Our members report increases in demand for their services at the same time that their funding is reduced. Uncertainties around funding are exacerbated by the short term nature of the current funding arrangements. Incredibly, the majority of Women’s Aid groups have no funding commitment beyond the current year. In addition, the rising cost of housing, coupled with social security cuts done in the name of “welfare reform,” is making it harder for our network to meet the cost of their services. Without meaningful, system-wide change in the way vital domestic abuse services are funded, groups face cutting services and closing refuges. And the women and children of Scotland will continue to suffer.”
Rosa Logar, WAVE President, said:
“There is a serious under-investment in specialised support services in many countries in Europe and as a consequence women have nowhere to turn for adequate help. We call on EU authorities, national governments and other interested parties in society to STEP UP investments to stop violence against women!”