Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. So it was apt to be reminded of some of the figures relating to domestic violence. Yesterday’s Sunday Mirror carried an exclusive story which revealed “victims of domestic violence make one in five of all 999 calls to police in some areas.”

The article called this a hidden crime which affects over a million women each year. Of course it is not always and exclusively women who are affected by this crime but nevertheless funding has been cut which is essential to helping support victims of domestic violence across the UK.

The article revealed the area with the highest proportion of domestic violence reports was Merseyside, where they made up 21% of all emergency calls. In both West Mercia and Lancashire the figure was more than 18%.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called for action on the problem, saying a new organisation should be set up to tackle domestic violence. She also said ministers haven’t helped and have compounded the problem by slashing funding to refuges.

She told the Sunday Mirror’s Vincent Moss: “This is a hidden emergency for over a million women every year who call out for urgent help but are not ­properly heard,” she added. You can read the full story here.

Meanwhile on the question of Europe, yesterday’s Observer had a well written piece by Andrew Rawnsley who warned those who are rushing to remove us from Europe not to wish too hard.

This is something I’m often asked about and I think it’s important to remember that in order to have a say in Europe, a strong and influential voice we must not deny ourselves representation a the top table. We must be there to negotiate on trade, borders and security and all the things which affect us as a nation.

Rawnsley’ s article said that Tony Blair is to make an “important intervention”, this Wednesday where he will tell a business audience that “the case for Europe is no longer principally about maintaining peace on this continent but about projecting power in the world. Out of the EU, Britain will be denied representation at the top table when Europe negotiates – on trade, for example – with America and China,” he is expected to say.

Rawnsley concludes that those who are calling for us to leave Europe are not influential in comparison to those who are gunning for us to stay in Europe. He says: “So on the fundamental question, in or out, here is the line-up of forces. On the side of remaining in the European Union: the Lib Dems, the Labour Party, an important number of senior conservatives, the vast majority of business and the vast majority of trades unions.

“On the side of leaving: a lot of Tories, a few noisy newspapers, hardly any businesses and hardly any trades unionists. That is why I say the ‘outists’e are unwise to toast victory before the battle has even been properly joined.” You can read his article in full here.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Labour Party

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Violence Against Women is a global problem. It is a global problem which is a symptom of discrimination against women, but it does not discriminate between them.

Violence against women affects women from all walks of life, from all countries, from all religions and at all ages. In the UK alone more than 40% of women have experienced some form of violence against them, violence that has been carried out purely on the basis that they are women.

It can take the form of domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, crimes in the name of “honour”, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

In the European Parliament  over the last week there have been several discussions about violence against women. In part this is a result of the European Commission’s seemingly regressive attitude towards tackling the problem which I spoke about here on Wednesday.

I am also still  incredibly worried about the repercussions of the EU no longer having a dedicated programme to combat violence against women following the Commission’s proposals to cut the Daphne Programme and divide its functions between two larger umbrella programmes. I recently blogged about this.

The programme, which has been running since 1997, provides vital support for organisations that work to prevent violence against women, children and other vulnerable people. Daphne has never been favoured by great amounts of funding from the Commission, but it has assisted over 500 projects since it was created in 1997. I speak about some of the projects it has supported here.

But there is much more to the Daphne programme than the funding it provides. It represents the united voice of Europe in saying that violence against women and children is not acceptable, that this kind of violence will not be tolerated and that ending violence is on the European agenda.  

In getting rid of the Daphne programme and in ignoring the almost unanimous call for an EU wide Directive from the European Parliament, what message is the Commission sending out to perpetrators of violence against women and children?

The basic cause of violence against women is inequality. I’m not denying progress has been made. This is seen in the number of girls in higher education, the shifting attitudes towards more family friendly flexible working and the anger at the way that the Tory cuts are affecting women so disproportionately.

Yet we still have a long way to go. The gender pay gap in Europe is 17%, the glass ceiling is still alive and well and there is noweher near adequate and affordable childcare. Violence against women is an extreme example of the discrimination women still face. The EU’s Daphne Programme played an important role in combatting anti-female abuse and we muct do everything we can to fight for its survival. It’s shameful indeed that the current round of public expenditure cuts are falling on such importnat work. We must all fight for Daphne and for those women who so badly need its services.