Violence against women crimes is at an all time high
Prosecutions relating to violence against women and girls are at an all time high, up 10% versus last year, according to a Crown Prosecution Service report out this week. Indeed, domestic abuse, rape and sexual offences account for 18.6% of the CPS workload.
Let that sink in for a moment… Just under a fifth of the CPS caseload is dealing with violence against women – more than any other single tranche of crime, including terrorism and fraud.
The CPS, claims that the rise in prosecutions is because more victims of domestic violence feel able to come forward. They prosecuted over 117,000 perpetrators of violence who are now facing the consequences of their actions. Revenge porn and coercive control were criminalised last year and are being recorded for the first time. But the prosecution figures are dwarfed by the likely scale of the issue. For example, 8.2% of women (over 1 million) say that they experienced domestic abuse last year. Many instances of abuse go unreported. Women suffer in secret, for a variety of reasons. One key reason is that they have no place of refuge to go to, once they disclose that they are being abused.
Soon, they could have even fewer places to go; according to another survey, published this week by Women’s Aid, shows that 67% of refuges in England and 69% in Wales are under threat of closure because of the changes in the way that housing benefit is paid to refuges and other sheltered and supported housing. Furthermore most refuges (87% in England and 100% in Wales) said that they would need to cut back on the services that they offer due to the changes. Whilst the refuges have had an exemption so far, and the Department of Work and Pensions is reviewing the situation, there are no promises or guarantees yet. Already 155 women and 103 children on average per day are turned away from refuges.
Mandy Marshall is co-founder of Christian charity Restored, which aims to help end violence against women. She says, “Whilst I am, sadly, not surprised at the rising figures of violence against women, I find it alarming that so many refuges are under threat. An estimated 1 million women – more than 1 in 4 – are estimated to have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. Women will be dissuaded from reporting domestic abuse and violence if they have no place of sanctuary and support – they may suffer in silence, rather than risk being left with nowhere to go, particularly if they have dependents.”
Bishop of Gloucester the Right Revd Rachel Treweek says, “Domestic abuse is a key social issue today, and many in our communities are affected by it, including women in our worshipping communities. Churches can do more to offer practical support and a compassionate response to women affected. We also need to challenge the culture in which domestic abuse thrives. Restored offers some excellent resources and training which help churches to do this in an informed way.”
Christian sociologist Dr Alan Storkey agrees. “The levels of suffering these new figures represent require us to out male abuse and control in all its forms. We should all be trying to be gentle men.”
So what practical steps can churches and individual Christians take? Mandy suggests the following:
- Help save the refuges: Join the Women’s Aid campaign here to lobby against closure of refuges.
- Take simple steps to make your church a place of sanctuary: Find out what practical steps you and your church can take to support women experiencing domestic abuse. Download the new Restored Church Action Pack here, or email or call Restored on 020 8943 7706 to order printed copies.
- Get more in depth training: Restored also offers 1 day training courses to church leaders on how to do more to end domestic abuse and offer support to women affected – email or call Restored on 020 8943 7706 for details.
And there are more actions you can take on the Restored website here.
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Restored is an international Christian alliance that aims to end violence against women. We do this by partnering with the church, Christian organisations and individuals to achieve change. We campaign to raise awareness of the issue, offer resources and training, and lead the world’s largest alliance of Christian organisations working to end violence against women (our 90+ members include CAFOD, Tearfund, Livability, Christian Aid, Christian Vision for Men, Mother’s Union and YWAM). Find out more at www.restoredrelationships.org.