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Ending violence against women and girls - your voice counts
The largest-ever cross-Government public consultation to tackle violence against women and girls was launched today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. It includes a review into police powers for dealing with serial perpetrators of domestic violence and a review of the sexualisation of teenage girls.
The Together We Can End Violence Against Women And Girls Strategy consultation sets out action Government has taken to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls. It looks at what more can be done to challenge the attitudes that may uphold it in order to help women and girls feel safer.
A new opinion poll conducted by Ipsos Mori shows that more than one third of respondents know a woman who has been the victim of violence by a man she knows. Furthermore, just over two in five respondents believe that a woman should be held, either partly or fully, responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was flirting heavily with the man before the attack.
The consultation will include public and stakeholder events in 40 towns and cities across England over the next nine weeks. Today, the Home Secretary outlined plans to consult the public and key stakeholders on a wide range of issues including:
* tackling persistent perpetrators - including a review into what additional powers police and courts may need to control violent perpetrators, particularly serial offenders who move between relationships, led by Chief Constable Brian Moore, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on domestic violence;
* helping women feel safer when they travel - including a new website enabling the public to report where they feel safe or unsafe and why, and the expansion of the Park Mark safer car parks scheme;
* a fact-finding review into the sexualisation of teenage girls; and
* the establishment of a new advisory group, with a specific focus on how schools can prevent violence against women.
Jacqui Smith said:
"Violence against women and girls is unacceptable in any form no matter what the circumstances are. We've already made real progress, with domestic violence incidents more than halving in the past twelve years and great improvements to the way rape victims are supported. But I want to start a national debate on what more we can do to prevent it and challenging attitudes which condone it. Most importantly I want to reduce the fear of serious violence that can infringe the absolute right of women to go about their lives free from fear.
"Over the next twelve weeks we will be speaking to thousands of people across the country through an interactive website, in focus groups and at road shows in more than 40 towns across the country. I want both men and women to engage with the consultation and tell us what would make them, or the women in their lives, feel and be safer. "
Today's proposals build on a programme of action that Government has delivered to tackle sexual violence through unprecedented investment and policies that transform the way the Criminal Justice System deals with domestic and sexual violence.
The key questions being asked, are -
* How do we prevent violence against women from happening in the first place?
* How do we reduce women's disproportionate fear of violence and the disabling effect this has on many lives?
* How do we help friends, family, employers and public services to identify early signs of violence as soon as possible and do something about it?
* How do we make sure that women who seek specialist help, or need to leave home to start a new life, receive a consistent level of local support wherever they live?
* How do we protect and support the children who are growing up in violent households?
* How do we build confidence in the criminal justice system to improve reporting?
* How do we make sure that men who have attacked or abused already don't continue to do so?
Brian Moore, Chief Constable of Wiltshire and ACPO lead on Domestic Abuse, said:
"One in five of all violent crimes reported are related to domestic abuse, while every year one in six of all murders in the UK are domestic violence-related homicides. These statistics are horrific and the police service is committed to doing everything it can to protect and support victims and to arrest perpetrators and put them before the courts.
"Our number one priority is to get the violence to stop and, as the ACPO lead on Domestic Abuse, I am very pleased to have been asked to lead this piece of work.
Nicola Harwin CBE, Chief Executive of Women's Aid, said:
"After many years of campaigning, Women's Aid is pleased to see Government recognition of the importance of a national strategy to tackle domestic and sexual violence against women and girls. For a national strategy to work we need to have a secure framework in place, where women and girls in every area have access to fully funded specialist domestic and sexual violence services.
"We also need this to be supported by prevention and public awareness work to educate and inform about violence against women. With a joined up response to domestic and sexual violence across all statutory agencies, improving access to justice and protection, we can together work towards a future where women and girls are safe from violence and abuse."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Violence against women includes stalking, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and other 'honour' related types of violence.
2. To view the consultation go to http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/keepwomensafe
3. Opinion polling conducted by Ipsos Mori shows results based on 915 telephone interviews with people aged 18+ in England and Wales, weighted to be representative of the population profile. This research is not part of the Home Office National Statistics programme. To view the research go to http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/violence-against-women-poll
4. There will also be a single-decker bus tour, which will visit local shopping centres, universities, sports grounds and train stations, to encourage public debate. For more information please visit http://www.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk/keepwomensafe. The bus will be in the following regions on the dates specified:
* south east, 12-14 March;
* east, 19-21 March;
* west Midlands, 26-28 March;
* east Midlands, 2-4 April;
* north east, 9-11 April;
* Yorkshire and Humber, 16-18 April;
* south west, 23-25 April;
* north west, 30 April - 2 May; and
* London, 7-9 May.
Maria Eagle, Minister for Women, said:
"Nearly a third of all women in all regions and in all social classes experience violence at some point in their lives. The Government strongly believes that this should not be tolerated and further action should be taken to address this issue. We are taking action now.
"We have made much progress - such as introducing specialist domestic violence courts and advisors, specially trained police officers and rape prosecutors and have set up the human trafficking centre - but there is still a way to go. This consultation will help us identify what more we can do to ensure women and girls can go about their lives without fear of harassment or violence." Roxanne Pallett, actress, said:
"I would like to offer my full support and appreciation of the violence against women consultation. This is a hugely important issue that is affecting girls and women everywhere behind closed doors and the more awareness raised, the better chance we have to offer strength to those trapped in the situation of domestic violence."
Jamelia, singer, said:
"There is never a reason or excuse for violence against women. I know how difficult it can be to leave a violent relationship, and I just want everyone out there to know if they or they suspect someone they love, is in a violent relationship they can and should get out of it. I want to help raise awareness of these issues which so often can be hidden away behind closed doors."
Zoe Wanamaker, actress, said:
"It is a sad fact that too many women are subject to violence in their lives. Anything done to help combat this insidious problem must be supported. That is why I'm giving my backing to this important consultation on tackling violence against women in all its forms. I urge everyone to get involved and make their views heard so we might help bring an end to the suffering."
Beverly Knight, singer, said:
"Domestic violence is like an infection. If you leave it and ignore it, it gets worse; and like any infection it can prove fatal. There is no defence in the "I was provoked/my buttons got pushed" line. A weak mind is one that resorts to physical violence. Never let fear become the ruler of your life."
The British Parking Association said:
"The Safer Parking Scheme (Park Mark(r)) is designed to reduce crime and the fear of crime in car parks and to improve the safety of all people using those facilities. The British Parking Association is therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to work with the Home Office and its Violence Against Women Strategy to explore how to further improve the Safer Parking Scheme from a woman's point of view. This is another example of true partnership with mutual benefits for all concerned."
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