In 2010 the Welsh Government launched a six year strategy, called a Right to be safe, to tackle violence against women. A progress report, Steps to Safety, has been published by the Wales Violence against Women Action Group [Wales VAW] to give a snapshot of progress made.
Among the positive steps taken, the action group welcomes the campaign launched by the WG last year to challenge attitudes towards violence against women [started in June with the One step too far campaign and followed by the Stop Blame campaign at Christmas] .
They also welcomed
- better services for trafficked victims and improved co-ordination
- a booklet for health professionals on FGM and some training provided on forced marriage
But while many of the aims labelled as tackling policy and prevention were in progress or completed, for many of the “protection” and “provision” aims were labelled as having “no progress” made.
There was a lack of progress in areas including;
- tackling the postcode lottery
- providing secure funding for key services
- ensuring someone in every school is trained to advise young women
- working effectively across all Welsh Government departments and with the UK Government
Naomi Brightmore, Chair of the Wales VAW Action Group said:
“Carl Sargeant has demonstrated his political commitment to tackling violence against women, but turning a government strategy into real impacts on the ground is proving tricky.
“Though we can see that there are areas where progress has been made, the strategy contains no measureable targets or outcomes, so we cannot say that women in Wales are safer in 2011 than they were in 2010 – and that is surely what we are all working towards.
“Our member organisations tell us that the squeeze on public finances is making service provision on the ground even more patchy – so we are calling on the Minister to put even more pressure on the relevant public bodies.”
According to Ms Brightmore, in one month in Wales,
- 150 women enter refuge following abuse, with 160 turned away.
- Some 35 sexual assault cases will be taken to court.
- Over 150 victims of rape or sexual abuse will seek counselling, help and support from the voluntary sector.
- Five women will be victims of trafficking and 3 will report forced marriage.
- It is quite likely that a woman will die this month at the hands of a family member or partner.
Paula Hardy, CEO of Welsh Women’s Aid, said:
“We have seen some excellent progress over the past year, including the delivery of two innovative publicity campaigns, the expansion of the Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline (which WWA manages) to also support survivors of sexual violence, and publication of new guidance for teachers to deliver PSE lessons on domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women.
“We have welcomed the clear commitment to ending gender-based violence from the Minister of Communities and Local Government, including the protection of the violence against women budget within his department.
“However, it is disappointing that this commitment is not matched across all Welsh Government departments, despite The Right to be Safe being billed as a ‘cross-departmental, integrated strategy’. Domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence affect all areas of a woman’s life, and all departments need to be engaged.
“Changes to vital funding streams in other departments, such as Supporting People funding in the Housing department, could have a detrimental impact to our 31 member groups across Wales, who provided refuge-based support for 1761 women and 1421 children and young people last year. We are also concerned at the lack of funding available for vital work with children and young people affected by domestic abuse.
“We are also concerned that there remain significant gaps between national policy and local delivery in this area. We need local authorities to understand that tackling violence against women is a national priority – and this should be enforced by legislation if needs be.”
There will be a debate in the Senedd on the issue of domestic violence at about 5pm this afternoon.