Women and Mate Crime

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2018 National Women's Conference
28 September 2017

Conference welcomes the work that has previously been done by UNISON on hate crime. However, “mate crime” is less well recognised.

Whilst there is no statutory definition of a ‘mate crime’, according to the Welsh government it is the term given to ‘the befriending of people, who are perceived by perpetrators to be vulnerable, for the purposes of taking advantage of, exploiting and/or abusing them. This can strongly be associated, but not exclusively associated, with people with a learning disability, learning difficulties or mental health conditions.’

Disabled women are particularly vulnerable to mate crimes involving sexual abuse, including enforced prostitution, rape and being coerced into sexual activity which they are not comfortable with.

There are many parallels with women experiencing domestic abuse, such as:

• Vulnerable women being isolated from friends and family;

• Fear of reporting, and of not being believed;

• Accusations of sexual misconduct – common in domestic abuse where women are accused of flirting, having affairs, or other sexual behaviour as an excuse for perpetrators to justify an escalation in violence;

• Financial exploitation and loss of control.

Conference believes that all women have the right to live free from fear and exploitation.

We therefore call on the national women’s committee (NWC) to work with the national disabled members’ committee to produce guidance for branches on how to recognise “mate crime” and how to support members affected by this, including how to report incidents.

Conference further calls on the NWC to work with all appropriate bodies and partner organisations to lobby for recognition of mate crime as hate crime, and for appropriate action to be taken against the perpetrators.