WOMEN AT RISK – THE DANGER OF CUTS TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN SERVICES

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Conference
2012 National Women's Conference
Date
19 October 2011
Decision
Carried

Conference notes with concern that research published by the False Economy campaign in August 2011 showed that numerous support services for women were having their funding cut or withdrawn, according to data gathered from 265 Local Authorities in England. Services in other parts of the UK are similarly under threat.

Research has demonstrated that there is a clear link between economic tension and domestic violence, which may potentially lead to family breakdown and an increase in the number of lone parent families who may need greater state support. This makes no economic sense.

Conference believes that violence against women services are essential for women to access safety, justice and to rebuild their lives. It is of great concern that authorities are increasingly adopting a “one size fits all” approach, denying the need for specialist services for LGBT women and Black women. Specialist Black women’s organisations and refuges, in particular, are feeling the impact of increased referrals for support for women with no recourse to public funds.

Under international human rights obligations, including recommendations under CEDAW and the European Convention on Human Rights (Articles 2,3,8), States have a responsibility to act with due diligence, that is with due care and effort, to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all women within their jurisdiction. Conference believes that these cuts, and changes to the legal aid criteria, mean that the government is failing to fulfil those obligations.

Conference therefore calls on the national women’s committee to continue to work with the End Violence Against Women Coalition to challenge the government to meet its obligations under the Convention and to press the government for :

1)ringfenced funding for specialist services as part of local violence against women strategies;

2)a national oversight mechanism to ensure that quality services are delivered consistently across the UK;

3)specialist commissioners who have expertise in the field of ending violence against women.