The actor Patrick Stewart wrote movingly in the Guardian yesterday about how domestic violence blighted his childhood. He condemned the decline in statutory funding going to Refuge, the leading charity in this field.
Sadly some MEPs on the right of the political spectrum take a view diametrically opposed to Patrick Stewart’s. When the European Parliament voted through a Report commending the success of the anti-domestic violence Daphne Programme last week, Tory MEPs Daniel Hannan, Roger Helmer and Syed Kamall abstained while UKIP Members Farage, Dartmouth, Agnew, Bufton, Clark, Nuttall and London MEP Gerard Batten voted against.
Voting against the excellent Daphne Programme is really quite reprehensible. Such behaviour just goes to show the right’s views about violence against women are truly prehistoric. Despite what Tory women like Louise Mensch try to tell themselves, David Cameron has still not managed to challenge the “dinosaur attitudes” obviously still rife within his Party.
The Daphne Programme, run by the European Union, is the only EU-wide programme combating violence and abuse against women and children. Established in 1977, it has effectively contributed to hundreds of projects that work towards the elimination of domestic violence, despite continual concern about its funding from the European Commission. I have blogged about this excellent programme on several occasions. Sadly, it now looks as if Daphne is under further attack, as shown in the European Commission’s plans for Daphne (or lack of them).
Unfortunately a similar thing to that described by Patrick Stewart is happening with EU work on domestic violence and abuse. The priority given to the elimination of violence against women by the European Commission has moved down their agenda. It has not even been mentioned as an objective in its proposals for the new ‘Rights and Citizenship’ programme of 2014-2020. Even though there are some legislative measures in place, including the EU anti-trafficking coordinator and the recent Victims Protection Order, these measures are few and far between. To seriously bring an end to violence against women, an issue which does not discriminate between countries and is, in the case of trafficking for example, a cross border issue we must work with our European neighbours. To think that this is an issue on which we can go it alone is a display of ignorance.