Honeyball’s Weekly Round-up

Labour Party

All cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involving under 18’s must be reported, new legislation introduced for England and Wales will stipulate.

The law will state that health care professionals, teachers and other social care workers will have to report cases of FGM within a month of becoming aware of it. Failure to comply could result in internal disciplinary or being referred to their professional organisation which could result in them being barred from practice and sacked.

The law will apply in all cases of known FGM in under 18s, whether it is disclosed by the victim or noticed by the professional.

The hope is that it will increase the ability to find perpetrators and this will lead to an increase in the rate of prosecutions. The move follows a public consultation which asked for opinion from a range of stakeholders including health care professionals, survivors of the practice and community groups.

We have a duty of care to protect young girls from this practice. Identifying the pathways that lead to FGM is an important step. And equipping front line staff with the right tools to identify and support victims or potential victims is a significant step in the right direction.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report last week which found that women who have endured violence in the home may have problems providing the evidence required to obtain a lawyer. And another report, published in the same week by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), found that cuts to legal aid exposed victims to a court room ordeal, some are even forced to endure cross examination by their abuser because they are increasingly forced to represent themselves in court due to legal aid cuts.

The CAB report, Victims of Abuse: Struggling for Support, found that victims give up on their fight for justice because regulations, “both in terms of evidence requirements and income or asset thresholds requiring financial contribution, leave large numbers of victims giving up on their rights to justice”.

It adds: “In some cases these restrictions expose victims to risk, leaving no alternative but to represent themselves in court facing their perpetrator.”

In other news, worrying statistics emerged last week as it was reported that young people are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population. Almost half a million, 498,000 young people aged 16-24 are without a job and thee unemployment rate sits at 14.4% for thus demographic.

The Tories accused Labour of talking negatively of the unemployment figures, however there is no way to negatively spin these facts which are shameful.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said there could be “no doubt” that there was a genuine issue with youth unemployment that needed to be addressed.

Failing to invest in this group of people is short sighted and a disgrace.

Please support the Justice for All Campaign and sign the Pledge

Labour Party

With the implementation of deep legal aid cuts in the coming months, whole swathes of society will find themselves deprived of access to justice. The Coalition’s claims that the move represents a sensible cost-cutting measure, which will challenge the existing ‘culture of litigation’ whilst protecting those in genuine need. Unlikely, I think, since their claim rests on the flawed assumption that those who seek advice on welfare, divorce, employment, and immigration (areas to be excluded from aid), are not at serious risk and therefore undeserving recipients of state assistance.

As is so often the case, women will suffer disproportionately when the cuts take effect, a fact acknowledged in the Government’s own equalities review. Of particular concern is the fact that aid will be available to women seeking divorce only where they have evidence of physical abuse; those suffering psychological victimisation must either endure their situation, or represent themselves in proceedings, a risky and challenging undertaking.

In an effort to challenge the attack on equal access to justice, a coalition of organisations, including the Fawcett Society, who have been shocked by the implications of Government ‘reform’ proposals have united to form the Justice for All Campaign. By taking a few moments to add your name to the pledge, you can help publicise the risks posed and, hopefully, force the ConDems to re-think this callous cut.  Please click on the button below to make your pledge:

Top 20 Labour Blogs