Preventing and tackling violence against women and girls should be a key focus for the new Government 

With Keir Starmer elected Prime Minister today, Solace urges his new Government to prioritise addressing the epidemic of domestic abuse and sexual violence facing women and girls across the UK. 

With 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic abuse, 1 in 8 recorded offences in London related to it, and nearly 25,000 police recorded sexual offences in London last year alone, women and girls cannot wait for any longer for action.  

Women and girls struggle to get access to the support they need, whether through the criminal justice system, legal support, economic help or access to housing. This is exacerbated by instability of funding for vital specialist support services who exist to help women get to safety and recover from abuse. 

We are pleased that a Labour Government has committed to halving violence against and women girls over 10 years, and to do this we need to see a whole society approach including: 

  • Making VAWG a priority through a new and ambitious strategy that ensures that prevention and perpetrator change is prioritised. 
  • Ensuring that the criminal justice system is fit for purpose and trust is rebuilt between women and girls and the police. 
  • Providing access to safe and affordable housing for VAWG survivors to help them live free from abuse.
  • Ensuring that all victims can access services and specialist support services are sustainably funded. 

Alongside increased funding for refuge and community services, the new Government should commit to ring-fenced funding for specialist ‘led by and for’ services for women of colour, Deaf and disabled women, LGBT+ survivors to support those who face further inequalities getting help. Women with insecure immigration status are some of the most marginalised in our society and we urge the new Government to remove the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition and implement a data sharing firewall between the police and the Home Office so that all women can access support and feel safe to report their abuse.  

Domestic abuse is a leading cause of homelessness in the UK, and the rising costs of housing and the continuing poor quality of housing are creating barriers to women fleeing abuse. Our research found that 70% of our survivors have a housing need and survivors regularly tell us the risk of becoming homeless led to them staying in abusive relationships. 

Labour has also committed to developing a new cross-government strategy to end homelessness. Our research has also found that women are likely to be significantly underrepresented in our data, women’s experiences are not recognised, and their homelessness is less likely to be resolved. We urge the Government to work to take urgent action to address the systemic inequalities that are creating barriers to women accessing support and housing.

Rebecca Goshawk, Head of Partnerships and Public Affairs said “We urge the new Government to recognise the impact of violence against women and girls and ensure that survivors get the support they need to leave abusive situations and go on to live safe and independent lives. Specialist violence against women and girls’ services are now chronically underfunded at a time when the complexity of women’s needs is increasing. 

“We are still seeing far too many women facing the impossible choice having to stay in an abusive and often escalating situation or lose their home. Women are also being forced into rough sleeping or hidden homelessness because of systematic barriers to accessing support. London’s housing crisis and the increased cost of living is only exacerbating this.”

“We also urge the new Prime Minister to not shy away from the real challenges for victims of domestic abuse in getting justice through our criminal justice system and getting access to safe and affordable housing to move on with their lives. We look forward to working with this Government to tackle these issues – women and girls lives depend on it”

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