The Daphne Programme is at risk

I  was disappointed and incredibly concerned to hear that the Daphne Programme is once again at risk of being withdrawn. Daphne is one of the key tools in preventing violence against women at the European Level.

I have talked about the great work of the Daphne programme several times before. This fantastic programme is aimed at the protection of children, young people and women against all forms of violence and at attaining a high level of health protection, well being and social cohesion for vulnerable groups.

Just a few of the issues the programme deals with are the prevention of domestic abuse, trafficking, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and sexual assault.

The programme has been running since 2000 and is now in its third cycle. In 2011 the budget allocated to the project was just over 18 million Euros or around 0.001% of the overall EU budget for the year.

Violence against women is believed to have affected up to 45% of the EU female population. It is estimated to cost EU Member States as much as 16 billion Euros every year – or one million Euros every half hour.

The difference to people’s lives that has been made by investing the equivalent of just over 1% of the total cost felt by member states into the Daphne programme is massive. I simply can’t understand why the commission isn’t instead increasing its support for this programme.

In the UK alone, funding has been provided to over 120 organisations since the programme began. These range from the Met Police and several London Boroughs to charities such as Banardos, Refuge and Childline.

Some of the vital projects that have received funding from the Daphne are Eaves Housing for Women who assessed the health needs of victims of trafficking. Funding has also been used to advance cooperation between Member States on issues such as missing children.

A cut in EU support would be another blow to charities working in the prevention of violence and abuse. So many, like the Poppy Project which I have long been a supporter of, are already suffering following he recent UK government cuts to their funding.

Coalition for a European Year to End Violence against Women

The issue of violence against women is not going away in the EU. In light of the danger faced by the Daphne programme it even appears support for bringing it to an end is getting weaker.

This is why I support the European Women’s Lobby’s Coalition for a European Year to End Violence against Women. A dedicated European Year would refocus attention on a problem that continues to persist across Europe yet is increasingly ignored. It would definately mark a step towards a more proactive approach to ending violence against women.

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