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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Tackling Violence Against Women

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Council of Europe launched a campaign to ‘combat violence against women, including domestic violence’ recently, at which Meg made the following remarks. For further details about the campaign visit: http://www.coe.int/t/dc/campaign/stopviolence/default_en.asp


Thank you for inviting me to speak today, and thank you to Spain for hosting this important conference.


I am delighted to join you in my capacity as Minister for Women and Equality. During the course of my work during the last year, I have heard of some of the devastating stories from victims of domestic violence. But they are not the only victims. I have also met those who have been sexually assaulted, and I have heard the harrowing stories of women who have been illegally trafficked into the UK as sex slaves. These are terrible crimes, predominantly carried out against women.


I am delighted to attend the launch of the Council of Europe Blueprint to tackle violence against women. We need to ensure that we, as Ministers and representatives from our countries, raise awareness about these crimes, and send a strong and unified message that we are not willing to tolerate this behaviour within our communities.  


We have a broad body of work being undertaken within the UK, which spans many government departments. I sit on three Inter-Ministerial Groups covering human trafficking, prostitution, sexual offending, domestic violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation and honour killings.


I am proud that since 1997, the British Government is ensuring that domestic violence is being tackled through all of our mainstream services. Our Ministers from across Government departments particularly want to ensure that it becomes easier for women to seek support or redress when they experience domestic violence.


In the UK domestic violence accounts for:

?        17% of violent crime,

?        30% of victims,

?        domestic violence starts or escalates in pregnancy, and

?        every year around 120 women are murdered by a current or former partner - more than two women every week.


So what has the British Government done?

In terms of Legislation we passed the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004). The Act gives greater protection to victims and children, and encourages them to stand up for their right to live without fear of violence.


Building on the new legislation, our National Delivery plan outlines how we will ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Additionally that we provide the best possible help for victims, to encourage then to come forward in the certainty that they will get the protection and support they need.


We provide considerable funding for women’s refuges including the building of modern safe buildings. We have over 400 refuges in the UK. We provide funding for a national domestic helpline; local authorities are developing sanctuary schemes - where for some women it is safe to stay at home.


Furthermore, we have introduced 25 Specialist Domestic Violence Courts. There is now at least one specialist domestic violence court area in every region and in Wales and 28 more being announced. Successful outcomes in court rose in all courts from 46% in 2003 to 59% in 2005 but in specialist domestic violence courts this figure reached 71%.


In March 2005 the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence was launched. This created a central resource for employers through an interactive website where employers and employees can find out information and seek support. The Corporate Alliance is a group of companies who have come together to promote Action Against Domestic Violence through the workplace. Many government departments, as well as private companies are members.


There have been recent high-profile cases in the UK where perpetrators have stalked, harassed and tragically murdered their victims in the workplace. This demonstrates the vital role that corporations, businesses and employers have in helping to achieve our primary objective of reducing domestic homicides. 


But in the UK, as our Ministerial groups demonstrate, we are committed to dealing with all crimes committed against women. In October we opened the UK Human Trafficking Centre which brings together services for trafficked women from intelligence to prosecution of offenders to services for victims.


We all need to take responsibility for bringing about change, for keeping our friends, colleagues, and our communities safe from crimes that devastates families and ruin lives. As we all know, remaining silent is collusion. 

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