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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 07:54 GMT
Action urged over abuse of women
Silhouette of woman
The report said women faced a "postcode lottery" in services
The government is not doing enough to tackle the problems of violence against women in the UK, a coalition of charities has warned.

A report by the End Violence Against Women Campaign said government work to combat the problem was "patchy" and suffered from a lack of resources.

It added women who needed support faced a "postcode lottery" over services.

Women's Minister Meg Munn said the report failed to acknowledge "real progress" made by the government.

The report comes at the same time as a separate one which criticises the government for failing to provide homeless women with the help they need.

A survey of 160 single homeless women in England by the charity Crisis found more than 20% had become homeless in their attempts to escape domestic violence.

'Two out of 10'

The report by the End Violence Against Women Campaign - led by Amnesty - says violence against women includes domestic violence, forced marriage, crimes in the name of honour, rape and sexual assault, trafficking, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and stalking.

In rating its success at tackling these problems, it gave the government an overall score of two out of 10 - last year it awarded the government just one.

There are many women who are living with the legacies of abuse and cannot get help
Professor Liz Kelly

The campaign said a lack of strategy and co-operation across departments was undermining the good work being done in some areas.

It added a failure to develop policies and provide resources for forms of violence beyond domestic violence, such as rape and forced marriage, was also hindering progress.

Funding and a lack of services are also highlighted as major problems, with the report noting that since 1984 the number of women-only rape crisis centres in England and Wales has more than halved - from 68 to 32.

'Mopping up'

Campaign chairwoman Professor Liz Kelly said: "There are many women who are living with the legacies of abuse and cannot get help following a sexual assault because there are no services in their area."

She called for more preventative policies, rather than an approach of "mopping up the problem once it has occurred".

The processes we have in place are working - the progress we see on the ground speaks for itself
Women's Minister Meg Munn

Ms Munn said the government had been making progress and cited a number of initiatives.

"These include creating a further 28 specialist domestic violence courts to bring more offenders to justice, opening the first UK Human Trafficking Centre in Europe and providing 2m for advisers to help women through the justice process," she said.

She said they also included "building or refurbishing 511 refuge bed spaces for women, introducing a new performance target for local authorities on domestic violence and working with local authorities to set up a further 165 sanctuary schemes in the coming year to enable victims of domestic violence to stay in their own homes."

She said: "We will keep delivering across government in the year to come, in particular publishing strategies on human trafficking, sexual violence and forced marriages.

"The processes we have in place are working - the progress we see on the ground speaks for itself."


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