When the government announced a nationwide lockdown they gave little thought to thousands of people who found themselves trapped in an abusive or violent situation. Domestic violence is always a problem, 1 in 3 women will experience it in their lifetime and in England and Wales alone 2 women a week are killed by their partner or ex partner.
This crisis has only been exacerbated by the lockdown. In the first month alone, 16 women and girls were murdered at the hands of their abusers. The lockdown caused people to be trapped in their houses indefinitely with their abusers, with little chance of escape. The frustration caused by being trapped in the house inevitably caused more violence to be inflicted.
The current system makes it very hard for women to escape their abusers. The lip service provided by our government doesn’t scratch the surface of what could be done to help people get out of these situations. The governments miserly £18.8 million over two years for domestic violence, which is a reduction of £1.2 million from 2016-2018. These sums pale in comparison to the upwards of £80bn which is estimated to be spent on HS2, not to mention the £41bn that’s wasted on military spending each year and at least £10bn on the failed Serco track and trace system!
Whilst some programmes to help women escape abusive situations do exist (such as ask Angela and text 999 call) they’re not compulsory, many haven’t even heard of these programmes. There needs to be nationwide campaigns informing the public about these campaigns. There also needs to be more time and money spent on designing relief programmes to make them accessible and safe for people to use.
It is clear that the government will not voluntarily provide sufficient funding to deal with domestic violence. We urgently need:
- More shelters and refuges that are easily accessible, in more remote towns not just cities, and increased provision for children.
- Counselling available to the adults and children involved.
- Grants for women and families to rebuild their lives.
- For refuges and shelters to be made COVID-safe and for this to be monitored by the staff and residents.
- National campaigns raising awareness and support.
- Exemption from lockdown rules for people escaping domestic violence.
The working class must put pressure on those in power to ensure that this issue is taken seriously and proper provision is made for those in need. However, these demands are just the tip of the iceberg. We need a serious overhaul of our system. We need a government who will put people before profit, who will consider the impact the decisions they’re making will have on more vulnerable people. The only type of Government which would do this would be a socialist one.
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