Help for domestic violence victims is a key service

Submitted by AWL on 25 March, 2020 - 7:50 Author: Katy Dollar

The often-quoted figure is two women a week killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

As we enter a new decade in 2020, the number of women being murdered per week in the UK by an abusive partner or ex-partner has risen to three. A further three women a week commit suicide to escape abuse.

Millions of women experience domestic violence every year. We can’t ignore these figures when the government has introduced measures to force people to stay at home.

There were increased reports of domestic violence in Wuhan following “lockdown” to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The US domestic violence national hotline has also reported a growing number of calls.

We have expect a similar increase in domestic violence in Britain as increasingly couples and families are confined to the home together.

Even before the added Covid-19 measures, victims who had made the decision to leave an abusive partner found it difficult to escape from dangerous homes. Austerity had hit already badly funded domestic violence services very hard.

Cuts have forced many refuges and community services to close and the ones left are struggling to survive, turning away those who need them because of lack of capacity.

Workers and campaigners in the domestic violence sector are calling on the government and local authorities to consider victims of domestic violence at this time. Women’s Lives Matter have launched a petition demanding;

• As an emergency measure, use hotel rooms and B&Bs, and requisition empty properties, to safely house victims needing to flee abusive situations.
• Experts must be involved in decision making and advice to ensure safeguarding.
• Put measures in place to assist victims to safely leave their homes and get to secure accommodation.
• Immediately give substantial funding to current domestic violence refuges – with a view to replacing the refuges that have been cut under austerity and funding more refuges to open to deal with the crisis in lack of provision.
• Emergency funds for those fleeing violence to support them with immediate provisions such as transport, food etc.
• Treat domestic violence specialists as key workers.
• Seek to reach out to specialist workers who have lost their jobs due to domestic violence service closures and re-deploy their skills to new services.

There is no reason to believe the Tories who have been cutting domestic violence services for years will suddenly protecting the victims of domestic violence. It will take mass campaigns to ensure the most vulnerable are protected.

This is one of the essential jobs of the women’s and labour movements now.

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