Wednesday 25th November was the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging data and reports have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified.
The UN describe this as a Shadow Pandemic growing amidst the COVID-19 crisis and we need a global collective effort to stop it.
If you, a family member a friend, or someone you are concerned about has experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence, you can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline 24 hours a day 7 days a week, for free advice and support or to talk through your options. Just call 0808 8010800, or text 07860077333.
The current statistics around domestic violence in England and Wales are shocking.
- A woman is killed in a domestic homicide every three days in England and Wales. 20% of women over 16 have been victims of sexual assault. 2.3 million people faced domestic abuse last year, and the majority of victims were women.
- The number of female homicide victims in England and Wales is at its highest level since 2006. 48% of murders of women are domestic homicides.
- Rape prosecutions in England and Wales are at their lowest level on record.
Impact of COVID-19
COVID has compounded these issues. The spring lockdown saw cases of domestic abuse soaring – a 65% increase in calls to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline and a 700% increase in traffic to the website – and the sector that provides for victims on the brink of collapse.
Data gathered by the organisation ‘Counting Dead Women’ found that in the first three weeks of lockdown, there were 14 women killed by men. This is the highest rate for at least eleven years and double that of a hypothetical average for 21 days over the last 10 years.
Over three quarters of survivors living with an abuser said they felt they could not leave or get away because of the pandemic. Two thirds of survivors, who were currently experiencing abuse, reported that their abuser used lockdown restrictions and the COVID pandemic and its consequence as part of the abuse.
16 Days of Action
The UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, from 25 November to 10 December, will take place under the 2020 global theme: “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”
As in previous years, the colour orange will be a key theme unifying all activities to bring global attention to the issue of violence against women and girls.
Find out more about the 16 Days of Action here.
The White Ribbon Campaign
White Ribbon UK is part of a global movement to encourage men to be a part of the solution; to understand the effect that toxic masculinity is having on our society, and to help other men and boys to take responsibility.
Visit their website to find out how to get involved: https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/day
Labour are calling for:
- UK government to work with the Domestic Abuse and VAWG sector to deliver sustainable support for these vital services.
- Support for all victims of domestic abuse, regardless of where they were born, to help victims and bring more perpetrators to justice. Migrant victims in particular are largely excluded from accessing services and refuge.
- Greater protection for children with parents who have been convicted of domestic violence.
- A duty on all relevant public bodies to provide support and services to all those affected by domestic abuse.
- UK government to develop a national perpetrator strategy, to try and break the cycle of reoffending.
- Speed up the next stages of the Domestic Abuse Bill, so the changes promised become law.
- Specific funding streams to support specialist services, including for black and minority ethnic victims, migrant victims, LGBTQ+ victims and disabled victims.
- Improve services to prevent and support victims of FGM.
- At a time when violence against women and girls continues to be such a global challenge, it was a terrible decision to scrap the Department for International Development
- Going back on the manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid will have serious detrimental effects on our ability to support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people including women and girls at risk of gender-based violence.
- Properly tackling violence against women worldwide is not something that can be done piecemeal. The government must commit to taking a global lead on addressing the underlying inequalities and structures that prevent gender equality and enable such violence to exist.