On the 102nd International Women’s Day, people campaign against domestic violence as around two women in the UK are killed each week as a result of abuse.
In 2012, Citizens Advice received reports of 13,500 domestic violence attacks.
Victims of domestic abuse are supporting a campaign to encourage more women to speak out as 80% of the victims were women.
Despite a gradual 40% decline in domestic violence incidents since 1995, Citizens Advice have now reported an increase in the number of reported victims.
There were 3,300 reported incidents to Citizens Advice between October and December 2012, which is an 11% increase on 2011. This has resulted in them to start a specialist service in ten of their offices to try and give extra help to victims.
Research by Women’s Aid and Refuge released earlier this week, who provide of support and refuge for female victims, shows that a third of women do not know where to turn to for support for domestic violence.
There are often spikes in figures of domestic violence as it is often a hidden crime, so the change in figures can be a result of more cases being reported rather than an increase in abuses, but they believe that the amount of increase shows the reason is likely to be more than this.
They have asked the prime minister on International Women’s day to address the problem. Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said:
These figures for domestic violence cases show it is disturbingly high and afflicts all levels of society – it haunts the lives of too many women and children.
As the scale of government cuts start to bite, we are concerned that our trend highlights how levels of domestic violence could get even worse. We need to see the government doing everything it can to deal with the problems of violence against women in our society and ensure they get the support they need.
Women’s services have been hit hard by cuts to funding with Refuge receiving cuts to 50% of their services which makes supporting an abused woman more difficult than ever, so they are trying to focus on prevention.
Speaking Out in Her Name is a campaign by Women’s Aid and Refuge for a change in education on the matter as only 15% of 16–18 year olds are taught about domestic violence in school to help raise awareness and prevent abuse.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said:
Refuge and Women’s Aid are struggling to make a difference but we can’t do it on our own, we need proper government funding and commitment to get sex and healthy relationships education into every school in the UK.
These are worrying times for the domestic violence sector, services are being eroded so it is time to call for a sea change and argue that prevention is better than cure.
Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, says this has not been accepted by the Department for Education:
The government wants to leave it up to schools whether they teach children about relationships, but I can’t understand why in schools children will be guaranteed education about finance, but not about consent.
I am worried the government does not understand the true costs of that choice.
A Department for Education spokesman said all schools were encouraged to provide a broad programme of sex and relationship education.
Jeremy Browne, Home Office minister for crime prevention, said:
Domestic and sexual violence are dreadful crimes and we are serious about tackling the abuse suffered by women and girls across the country.
Through our This is Abuse campaign, we have taken great strides in challenging unacceptable attitudes in teenage relationships and in helping teenagers to recognise abuse when they see it.