Soaring rates of violence against women and girls are an indictment of the Conservative government and a stain on the UK, the Women’s Equality Party said on Monday, calling for immediate cross-party action to end this epidemic.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s annual report shows prosecutions for offences against women at an all-time high. Prosecutions for gender-based crimes including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assaults, have risen by almost 10% to 117,568 in 2015-6.
“The last year has seen a record number of prosecutions for rape, stalking, child sex abuse and violent and sexual abuse online. We cannot continue to let this happen on our watch. Future generations will ask us what we did when we knew that hundreds of thousands of women and girls were being discriminated against and abused,” said Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party. “Each and every politician must answer that question. And if they will do nothing to prevent this epidemic of violence, then they must fund the services that make up for their apathy.”
Walker continued: “The Women’s Equality Party was created to fill the void that this report has so vividly illustrated. The other political parties have failed to act to make women free from the fear of violence. Our members have called on the Prime Minister to make saving these women’s lives a priority in her first one hundred days in office – and they have been met with deafening silence. It is time for our Prime Minister to make this a priority.”
The Women’s Equality Party is demanding action from the Government to continue to improve access to justice, and to prioritise sustainable funding for vital specialist services that are on their knees. This follows a report on Monday that 67 per cent of refuges may be forced to close because of the housing benefit cap.
Earlier this year the Women’s Equality Party launched its e-Quality campaign, calling for tougher action on online abuse and seeking to work with all other parties to make this happen. “Since the introduction of new law criminalising the disclosure of private sexual images without consent was introduced in April of last year there have been 206 cases of revenge pornography taken to UK courts – but 61% of cases do not result in prosecution,” Walker said. “The Women’s Equality Party has written an amendment to existing law to end impunity for web providers who profit from and redistribute revenge porn – so that those who intentionally host or refuse to remove sexual images shared without consent face prosecution. WE call on all parties to support this.”
Today’s report also shows an increase in the number of stalking cases being taken to court. Singer Lily Allen and Paladin have joined forces with the Women’s Equality Party to raise awareness of the insidious and terrifying nature of this crime. “Lily’s story showed that the justice system still does not fully understand stalking behaviours and risks,” said Walker. “Lily carefully reported every single incident and collected evidence, but the police failed to join up the dots. There is a clear need to register, track, manage and supervise serial stalkers, just as sex offenders are proactively identified and managed.”