The most recent report from the Office for National Statistics indicates that from April 2016 to March 2017 more than 1.2 million women between the ages of 15 and 60 were abused by their partners or family members, a number that represents more than 60% of the total of registered cases.
During that period, 82 women and 13 men were killed by their spouses or former partners and in the last four years the police reported 549 deaths from these causes, of which 401 (73%) were female.
According to the ONS, the aforementioned data offer only a partial image of the problem, whose actual dimensions are far greater.
According to the British Home Office, every year, around two million people, the majority of them women, are victims of domestic violence in the United Kingdom, a figure considered conservative due to the inaccuracy of reports and the silence of many of those assaulted.
Inquiries made in England and Wales indicate that four out of every five citizens abused by their partners do not make complaints about what happened, so many attacks are not processed and continue to be repeated.
The last point is frequently reported by non-governmental organisations that warn of the rise in insecurity in British homes and failures in the judicial system.
On 8th March, thousands of people took to the country’s streets to demand an end to violence against women and the Prime Minister Theresa May promised to combat those crimes and implement a law guaranteeing punishment of those responsible and protection of victims.
May specified that – among other things – the law will recognise the devastating impact of this crime on families, imposing more severe penalties in cases that affect minors; that a department in charge of applying preventative measures and bringing public institutions to accountability will be created; and that a disclosure scheme will be implemented which will let citizens know if their partner has a criminal record.
May said that 20.4 million euros were allocated to establishing shelters for those fleeing from violence, an initiative that benefits around 19 thousand individuals.
As on past occasions, the Conservative leader promised to put an end to this scourge and reaffirmed her intention of providing better support to affected families.
However, groups such as the Women’s Equality Party criticized the absence of a comprehensive approach for fighting this problem, its over-simplification and the lack of effective action, capable of promoting true social change.
“Violence against women is the cause and consequence of gender inequality and cannot be eliminated only through the prosecution of the perpetrators. We must analyse and confront the economic gaps and political climate that allow that scourge to prosper,” that institution pointed out in a statement.
100 years ago, British women won the right to vote, but, despite the great advances in the fight for equality, today women in the United Kingdom are still marginalised and underrepresented. The wage gap and sexual harassment are a few of the outstanding issues.
For its part, the Sister Uncut organisation, opposed to the cuts of May’s administration, reported that the government’s austerity policy has negative effects on initiatives such as the establishment of more centres to provide refuge for victims.
In 2016 and 2017, 60% of the women who went to these facilities were turned away, often due to lack of resources and beds for them to stay in, and currently more than half of those spaces could close due to lack of funding.
It has also been reported that 50% of British women suffer harassment in schools and workplaces; and that some 54,000 pregnant women and working mothers are forced to leave their jobs every year while only one percent of these cases go to court. (PL)
(Translated by Hannah Phelvin-Hartley – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay