Build Back Equal
Over the last six months the government has failed women and the most vulnerable. The Women's Equality Party is ensuring that we not only build back better from the coronavirus crisis, but that we Build Back Equal.
We were told by the Government that Coronavirus was a “great leveller” but we always knew it would be the great revealer. It shone a light on the deep inequalities in our country, and the poorest and most vulnerable are being hit the hardest:
- The health and care workers who saw us through this crisis are not even paid a real living wage and their work is classified as “unskilled”.
- Black people are twice as likely to be killed by the virus compared to white people, even when you take into account other factors such as age and health.
- Parents have been expected to carry on working without any childcare or support, and a quarter of nurseries will be forced to close by April.
- The sectors where women work have faced the biggest closures and more women have been furloughed or made redundant than men.
- The number of women killed by their partners doubled during lockdown. A rise in abuse cases coupled with lack of resources for service providers led to a violence crisis and failed the 1.6m women a year who experience domestic violence in the UK. Funding cuts to refuges of around 50% since 2011, along with a surge in reported incidences of abuse meant that 60% of those turning to refuges for support this year were turned away.
This is political. We need to stand up and fight for equality.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
25th March 2020
10 Downing Street
Over the last week, monumental measures have been taken by the government to control the spread of coronavirus and now parliament is closing early for the same reason. While we welcome the measures that are needed to try and keep people safe, requiring people to stay at home and effectively ‘locking down’ the UK does not protect the safety of everyone. Increased measures of societal control put women and children experiencing domestic abuse at far greater danger. Government has a duty of care to protect every member of the public.
The 1.6 million women experiencing domestic abuse yearly should be no exception.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders enable the police to temporarily remove suspected perpetrators from a victims’ home for up to 28 days. They are underused across the UK because of the cost and administrative burden. At the same time support services are struggling to keep up with demand from women seeking help. Funding cuts to refuges of around 50% since 2011, along with a surge in reported incidences of abuse has led to 60% of referrals to refuges being turned away.
Reports from organisations across the globe have shown domestic abuse increases with enforced isolation
From a charity in Hubei to a domestic violence hotline in Oregon, reports suggest that social distancing and lockdown measures result in an increase in cases of domestic abuse as households become pressure cookers for coercive control and violence. The government cannot just close its own doors and abandon people to these increased risks without ensuring the police have the powers they need to intervene, and support services are properly resourced.
There are immediate steps that can be taken to protect survivors:
- Domestic Violence Protection Orders must be extended to cover the full isolation period giving victims immediate protection away from the threat of violence, and breathing space to make vital decisions.
- Court fees for cases of domestic abuse must be waived with cases prioritised in court and delegated to trained magistrates.
- Emergency funding must urgently be supplied to refuge services who are currently under immense pressure to protect the increasing number of domestic abuse victims.
If our government acts now, lives can be saved.
Over the past week, our government has proven that in urgent times, urgent measures are well within reach. Parliament must reopen to change the law on DVPOs and release emergency funding for support services. Women’s lives depend on it.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
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