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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Tories to tackle domestic violence
Domestic violence
One in four women suffer violence in the home
Victims of domestic violence are to get a new champion for their cause - in the form of the Conservative Party.

At Christmas the Tories will launch a campaign to help women who suffer in silence.


We want to end the climate where women have to suffer in silence

Caroline Spelman

Shadow minister for women, Caroline Spelman, made the pledge at the party's conference in Bournemouth, shortly after visiting a nearby refuge for victims of domestic violence.

She argued that one in four women had suffered violence in the home, describing it as one of society's "most hidden and prevalent" problems.

'All talk'

She told the conference: "The law of averages must mean that there will be some of you who have been victims of domestic violence."

Debate on the issue at a Tory conference is a "strong sign" of changes within the party, she said.

"And we will not simply talk about domestic violence here in conference - when we return to government we will do something about it.

Caroline Spelman
Debate on domestic violence shows the Tories are 'changing'
"So much for Labour's rhetoric about addressing what women want and need. The refuges in this country have all been set up by charities."

Ms Spelman continued: "Our party supports the efforts of the not-for-profit sector succeeding where the state falls short."

Many victims of domestic violence tolerated the abuse, feeling too stigmatised, fearful and reluctant to leave their homes and families, she said.

Alcohol and debt

Ms Spelman stressed: "The way to deal with stigmas is to talk about them openly, which is why I am pleased the Conservative Party is doing this today.

"Each Christmas, as levels of stress, alcohol and debt increase, domestic violence reaches a peak. Conservatives are trying to do something about this.

"This Christmas, the Conservative Party intends to launch a campaign to help women who are victims of domestic violence. We want to end the climate where women have to suffer in silence."

Nationally, the Crown Prosecution Service deals with 13,000 cases of domestic violence a year.

One-third of all murders in England and Wales are classed as "domestic incidents".

This kind of crime accounts for a quarter of all violent crime.


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See also:

03 Oct 02 | England
28 May 02 | Scotland
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