Letter to send to all candidates in general elections re: domestic and sexual violence & abuse
This a draft letter for people to send to all of their local candidates in the general election
I am writing to you today to confirm your stance and commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence and abuse (DSVA), crimes in which women are the majority of victims. Violence against women and girls is both a cause and a consequence of women's inequality and remains the biggest global threat to human rights. Domestic violence alone costs twenty three billion pounds a year to the economy of England and Wales. In Scotland, the cost is estimated at 2.3 billion pounds a year. Current 'austerity cuts' have disproportionately effected women forcing women into poverty and resulting in them remaining with abusive partners due to lack of refuges, housing and an inability of the welfare system to assess claims within a timely manner.
I would like to know your answer to the following questions:
- Will you commit to increasing ring-fenced funding to specialist services for domestic and sexual violence and abuse, which are predicated on a gendered understanding of the reality of DSVA. This means recognising that the majority of victims of DSVA are women and children and the perpetrators are almost always male. It also requires acknowledging that black and minority ethnic (BME) women have specific needs that require their own specialist services.
- Will you commit to enforcing mandatory sex & relationships education in school - something that the current Education Minister Nicky Morgan has recently announced will not be made statutory?
- Will you ensure that all women living with domestic violence can access support, regardless of immigration status? Despite years of activism from the 27 members of the No Recourse to Public Funds campaign, including Imkaan, Southall Black Sisters and Eaves, there are still a minority of women in the UK denied access to services because of their immigration status.
- Will you commit to funding specialist domestic violence courts where the prosecutors and judges have specialist training in domestic and sexual violence and abuse?
- Will you examine the possibility of moving cases involving domestic and sexual violence and abuse from an adversarial system to an inquisitorial process.
- Will you support the current laws on anonymity for suspects in cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence?
- Will you commit to a stronger child maintenance program to prevent children from living in poverty due to the refusal of the non-custodial parent to pay maintenance? Will you support laws that would recognise this as the financial abuse of children?
- Will you commit to mandatory specialist training for lawyers, police, juries, and judges on domestic and sexual violence and abuse.