Violence Against Women and Girls April 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the related ActionAid campaign.

I share your deep concern about this extremely important issue and I agree it is vital that the international community redouble efforts to tackle and eradicate violence against women and girls. It is very concerning that globally 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. This has been recognised by both the United Nations and national Governments as a human rights issue. I also believe that it undermines development because gender-based violence is one of the biggest health risks facing women around the world.

I agree it is vital the international community redouble efforts to tackle VAWG and I welcome the target in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls around the world. The UK Government has pledged to work with international partners to further progress its work on this issue in developing countries. I welcome this commitment.

In March 2016, the Government published its Ending Violence against Women and Girls Strategy for 2016-2020. While I welcome the steps outlined in the strategy, I want to see the commitments made to vulnerable women and girls followed through, so that they do not just remain as warm words.

As well as tackling violence against women and girls in developing countries, I believe we need to do more to more to address this issue at home. I am concerned that violence against women remains a hugely significant problem in the UK. Indeed, two women a week are killed in the UK by a current or former male partner, yet the Government is overseeing the closure of many domestic violence shelters for women, removing the last line of hope and safety for victims of violence and abuse. I do not believe that women should continue to bear the brunt of Government cuts at the expense of their safety and well-being.

I strongly believe that we need to ensure that we build up social and emotional skills for all as the basis of empathy and respectfulness towards others. Once we have this then we can really start to tackle issues such as discrimination and in particular, violence against women and girls.

At the general election I stood on a manifesto which included commitments to introduce a Violence against Women and Girls Bill, appoint a commissioner to set minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence and to provide more stable funding for women's refuges and Rape Crisis Centres. I also believe that the current Government should introduce compulsory and universal education programmes on healthy relationships for our children.

I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and support steps to tackle and eradicate violence against women and girls in the UK and worldwide. 

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.