Welsh Women’s Aid Statement on Violence Against Women and Girls – Thursday 7th October 2021
We have all been horrified in recent weeks following the news of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard.
Violence against women and girls is an epidemic problem that is not being addressed with the urgency and seriousness that it so desperately needs. This year alone, at least eight women in Wales are suspected to have been killed by male violence. This cannot be allowed to continue any more, and empty platitudes from those in charge are simply not good enough.
As you read this, support workers at the Live Fear Free national helpline and specialist services, will be taking calls from women experiencing domestic abuse, women who have been raped and assaulted by husbands, family members, friends, colleagues, strangers. These calls come every day and night.
We must be as horrified as we have been these last few weeks about each and every case.
The outpouring of women sharing their experiences is not new – we have been speaking our truth over and over again – the Me Too movement isn’t something that happened a few years ago, Tarana Burke started it in 1997, we have had refuges and rape crisis centres since the 70s and as experts in our own experiences women have campaigned and advised governments, police, local authorities on what they want to see changed for decades.
But we still hear from women that they are not believed, listened to or that are blamed for the harassment, abuse and violence they experience every day. We see some politicians and leaders continue to place the onus of safety with women and not with the men who are perpetrating violence or the institutions that have the power to create change.
Governments have said they are committed to the prevention of violence against women and girls. In Wales public bodies have had a duty to prevent, protect and support since 2015 but in that time over 50 women have been killed. We know there are still barriers for women to get support, protection and justice. This is exacerbated for Black, minoritised or migrant women.
While we see outrage in the media and from politicians, we are still having to fight for sustainable funding for support services and investment in prevention work.
Vulnerable women are being turned away from refuges due to the lack of capacity. Sexual violence services have long waiting lists. Children’s opportunity for support is a postcode lottery across the country and despite being a Nation for Sanctuary, there is no equality in access to support for migrant women.
Why do their lives matter any less to be denied the safety and support we all deserve?
We have known that women and girls are not safe at home, at work, on the streets or in school for a long time. The statistics have been known for a long time that almost every woman and girl has had an experience of harassment, violence or abuse at some point in their lives.
No more platitudes or empty gestures. We need action.
These recent cases have highlighted the misogyny and racism that is still prolific across our society. Action must be taken now to create communities that challenge persistent misogynistic attitudes. We must show zero tolerance to harassment and abuse and hold those that perpetrate it to account.
Violence against women and girls must be prioritised in every police force across Wales, in the Home Office and in the Senedd, in communities and in schools.
We want a commitment from those in power to take ending misogyny and violence against women seriously. It means properly and sustainably investing in support services and prevention work that has consent, respect and equality at its core.
If those in power are truly serious about the safety of women, there can’t be anything less than profound and fundamental changes across the board.
We don’t want only to survive, we want the right to thrive.
If you are a survivor of violence against women, domestic violence or sexual violence, help is available. The Live Fear Free Helpline is available 24/7 in any language via language line.