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Abuse against women 'not tackled'

6 October 09 05:44 GMT

A coalition of 20 charities claims the Welsh Assembly Government is not going "far enough or fast enough" in tackling all forms of violence against women.

The Violence Against Women Action Group says a draft strategy is too focused on domestic violence and not issues like sexual assault and forced marriage.

It is calling for a campaign to challenge attitudes to such abuse.

This year 11 women in Wales met violent deaths - nine of which were allegedly at the hands of a man they knew.

The assembly government said it was adding £1m to its budget for tackling abuse and violence against women.

But the charities say the assembly government needs to improve the way it plans to tackle violence against women.

The group said the draft strategy does not provide the "co-ordinated" approach they seek to prevent the violence which they say has already claimed the lives of a number of women in Wales this year.

The report calls for a campaign involving men to challenge attitudes so violence against women becomes unacceptable and levels of tolerance towards violence against women are diminished.

It also urges a violence against women 'tsar' or commissioner, to ensure all government departments work together in tackling the issue.

Group spokesman Cathy Owens said: "The draft strategy is so bad that all the women's organisations have been galvanised by the perceived lack of action in this area.

'Postcode lottery'

"It was a one-off opportunity to take a new approach. We feel strongly that this strategy is very weak in a number of areas. We don't feel it goes nearly far enough or fast enough.

"It's too focused on domestic violence and not focused enough on the other forms of violence such as sexual assault, harassment, forced marriage , female genital mutilation and human trafficking.

"What we're looking for is a step change that looks at all forms of violence that, for example, really tackles the postcode lottery of services for women across Wales."

The report also calls for the assembly government policy to define violence against women in a way which acknowledges that women are "overwhelmingly the victims of gender-based violence and that women and men experience violence differently".

It said: "That does not mean that exactly the same services, at an equivalent level, should be provided for men and women.

"If women are overwhelmingly victims of some forms of violence, then the balance in service provision should reflect that."

Social Justice Minister Brian Gibbons - due to meet the delegation - said: "The extra £1m I have announced today represents a 33% increase on the current year and will take the total budget for next year to £4.7m.

"On top of this, the assembly government spends around £10m a year on refuges and other services to support people fleeing domestic violence.

"I am now carefully considering all the views that were expressed during the consultation and as part of this, will consider how we can best use this additional money.

"However, I recognise that statistical evidence does point to a majority of victims being women and so my priority for the funding will be to support the delivery of specific actions aimed at tackling the violence against women agenda."

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