Janet Street Porter advocates considering alternatives to imprisonment for non-violent women

A Loose Women lunch time show on television this week discussed reforms for women who are sent to prison and the impact on their children of prison sentences. Janet Street Porter spoke on the programme and is an advocate of the campaign to find alternatives to prison for non-violent mothers. She discussed how many of these women are substance users and in domestically violent relationships and require support. She argued that many support services and refuges are being closed because of cuts in funding for women in domestically violent relationships. The programme also highlighted the government’s new strategy to divert women away from prison sentences by piloting residential centres for women rather than building new women’s prisons.

A government press release discussing this strategy is available here.

End Violence Against Women (EVAW) call for responses to the UK government Violence and Abuse Bill Consultation

The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a UK-wide coalition of more than 70 women’s organisations and others working to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all its forms, including: sexual violence, domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, FGM, stalking and harassment.

EVAW has drafted a response to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill Consultation and is calling other contributors to read their response complete their own response or send suggestions to them to contribute to their working document.  The submission date is 31 May 2018. EVAW accept the consultation document is long and stress it is not necessary to complete every question. You can access their call to action here.

Their draft response to the consultation includes a short Executive Summary which will be enclose with the submission and will cover key points about overall disappointment at the ‘narrow offer’ being made. This includes the lack of commitment to guaranteed protection and advocacy for women despite the drive to increase reports to police. They also urge a broader role for the new Commissioner in this area. EVAW also identified it is important that the Government provides a strong response on questions related to the following areas:  the domestic violence definition; relationships education; women offenders; the ‘no recourse’ question concerning women with insecure immigration status (number 15); work with perpetrators; the Istanbul Convention (question 50); and the proposed new commissioner (question 59 & 60).

You can access the draft submission for the consultation here.

You can get in touch and suggest changes to EVAW here.

Protests about legal outcome of gang rape in Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands took the streets in Madrid to protest over the gang rape ‘Wolf pack’ case. A court acquitted five men of gang rape charges. The rape took place during a bull running festival last year. The protests are because the men only received a 9 year sentence between them and fines, their charges were reduced to sexual abuse rather than rape.  The prosecution had been pushing for a 20 years worth of sentence due to the gravity of the case.

According to a police report, the men promised to walk the woman to her car and then surrounded her and forcibly removed her clothes and had unprotected sex. Some of the men filmed the rape and posted footage on a Wattsapp group bragging about their conquest and sharing the videos. They also stole her phone.  Many argue that if she had consented as the men  claimed they would not have stolen her phone afterwards.  Altamira Gonzalo, vice-president of Themis, a Spanish organisation of women jurists, told Efe news agency: “It should have been a courageous sentence. The courts can’t be so distant from society.”

 Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez tweeted his outrage  “If what the ‘wolfpack’ did wasn’t group violence against a defenceless woman, then what do we understand by rape?”

You can read more about the coverage of this story in The Guardian here. 

The UK Government’s UK, 2017 Drug Strategy

The stated aim of the UK Government’s 2017 Drug Strategy is to “build a safer, healthier society: one that works for everyone.” Furthermore to, “to improve life chances and protect the most vulnerable.” The government hopes to achieve these key aims by cross-government working and engaging those from the drugs field, health and criminal justice setting including specialists from academia, practitioners and service users.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) and abuse has been given a particular remit within the 2017 drug strategy – to explore links between substance misuse and IPV, with a view to producing innovative approaches to working with both victims and perpetrators to reduce the offending behaviour and the substance misuse. The need to support those families where domestic violence features, is also recognised. In particular, The Troubled Families Programme has been expanded to include supporting family members where domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems are prevalent.

A copy of the 2017 Drugs Strategy can be downloaded here.

 

 

International Women’s Day 2018 – 8th March

 

 

The Centre for Violence Prevention Institute of Health and Society based at the University of Worcester are a group of multi agency professionals (police, nurses, social work, specialist domestic abuse workers and counsellors) training together to address domestic abuse.  This photo was taken to promote international women’s day (IWD). Find out more about their training events, publications and conference here

March 8 sees the annual IWD campaign theme kick off for the year ahead, although many groups around the world adopt and promote the campaign theme from early in the year. The IWD campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize collective action. Throughout the year many groups worldwide adopt the IWD campaign theme for further campaign work, gender-focused initiatives, continuing activity and events. A great example of this was in 2017 when the USA Women’s Hockey Team went on to adopt the #BeBoldForChange IWD campaign theme.

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day successful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist  once said  “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900’s, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. International Women’s Day belongs to all communities everywhere – governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more. Whether through a global conference, community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation – everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender parity.

You can find out more on how to get involved on the IWD website here.

 

 

UK home secretary has revealed a number of proposals regarding treating survivors of DV in court

The UK home secretary Amber Rudd proposed in February 2018 a series of proposals to aid the treatment of domestic violence survivors in court. One measure seeks to make it automatic that victims of domestic violence will be eligible to give evidence behind a screen (to prevent them having to face their abusers).

Some DV charities such as Women’s Aid have welcomed the measures but highlight that domestic abuse survivors are still being subjected to the “abhorrent practice” of being interrogated by their abusers within the family courts. Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, commented  “We know that the cross-examination of victims in the family courts by their abusive former partner is far too common.’

The practice of abusers being permitted to question their partners was originally going to be prevented under the prisons and courts bill. However, this was side-lined when Theresa May called a general election.

Rudd’s proposals will form part of a consultation on what to include in the Domestic Abuse Bill. Amber Rudd commented on the consultation in the Times saying:

“It [the consultation] will ask how we can improve our response in the home, in the community, in the courtroom, through to public services, accommodation for women fleeing their abuser, as well as how we can strengthen our laws to stop perpetrators and when possible rehabilitate them.’

The new bill is described here.

However, there is an overhaul proposed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which includes plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. It is suggested this will result in vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners being unable to pay for their accommodation using their housing benefit. To put this in perspective on average housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding.  It is anticipated the impact will be far reaching if these proposals go ahead.

Women’s rally in London 21 January 2018 – one year on

womens march 2018

A March has been organised in London by the Women’s March London team, the Time’s Up anniversary rally will start opposite Downing Street on Sunday 21 January. In a statement, the event organisers said: “One year on, we are coming together to say Time’s Up.”

The Time is up Initiative was launched at the start of January 2018 as a response to the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Spearheaded by women working in the entertainment business in the US, the initiative provides advice and support to women across all industries who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse at work. Women of all ages and backgrounds have spoken out about their experiences of harassment and assault, reshaping assumptions about the prevalence of sexual misconduct. In the UK, a coalition of MPs and women’s groups demanded the government  strengthen laws around sexual harassment.

The rally organisers are also hoping to focus attention on a wide range of issues including gender-based violence, sexual harassment and abuse; Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, transphobia, homophobia and ableism; the gender pay gap; underfunding for domestic violence services; menstrual poverty and climate change denial.

 

Authors find people link different types of alcohol with different emotions

A new paper has been published discussing how choices of alcohol can affect emotions. The authors used an international cross-sectional survey and investigated alcohol consumption choices among men and women and included different settings where alcohol was consumed.

An anonymous online questionnaire was completed by people aged between 18 and 34 who had drunk alcohol in the previous year. The questions probed the type of alcohol drunk and associated emotions, and were asked in 11 different languages, with participants taking part from 21 countries around the world.

The findings showed that red wine was most linked to relaxation but also tiredness by people completing the survey and spirits were more closely seen as producing the emotions of self confidence and energy.

As one of the authors describes “From a public health perspective a lot of the time we have focused on issues around cancer, heart disease and liver disease – but an important aspect is the balance of emotional outcomes that people are getting from alcohol,” said Mark Bellis, co-author of the research from Public Health Wales NHS Trust.

Read a Guardian article that describes the study here.  

You can view the BMJ paper here.

 

Domestic Violence Conference 2018 – Worcester University

uni worc violence prevention 

The Centre for Violence Prevention at Worcester University is hosting an annual conference on the 4 and 5th June 2018. The focus of the conference is violence prevention at the intersections of identify and experience. The aim of the conference is to draw together practitioners and academics from all disciplines and to advance discussions and understanding around the complexities of preventing all forms of violence.

The conference organisers are calling for abstracts from academics and non-academics who work in the broad field of violence prevention. They are interested in submissions from the following topics in relation to victim and offender positions.

Hate crimes: Child abuse/exploitation, Child abuse and neglect, Violence in older age, Violence and gender, Honour based violence

Stalking: Gang related violence, Child to parent violence, Technology-mediated violence, Violence involving firearms and guns, Violence prevention in the context of war

Knife violence: Childhood violence, Workplace violence and abuse, Domestic violence and abuse

Abstracts of proposed papers should be no longer than 250 words and provide the general context and rationale for the presentation, and describe the main argument/case, and where appropriate summarize findings. Implications for practice should be noted. Please contact Esther Dobson e.dobson@worc.ac.uk  to discuss if your work fits the specifications of the conference.

Submission deadline: 31 March 2018 | Submit to cvp@worc.ac.uk

To book a place:  please click here

 

 

Lisbon Second European conference on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2017 – ADVANCE presentations

gang lisbonlisbon conference centre

Some members of the ADVANCE team presented findings on the meta-ethnography, systematic review and preliminary findings from the qualitative dyad interviews with males and their ex/current partners. Members of the teams from Kings College London and Worcester University chaired and presented at a symposium entitled ‘Advancing theory and treatment approaches for males in substance use treatment who perpetrate intimate partner violence (IPV).’

There was a wide range of high quality scientific and policy presentations at the conference covering topics including drug and alcohol use, gambling, misuse of medicines, smoking, smart phone usage, crime related to substance use, prisons and usage, health consequences, marketing of drugs on the internet, innovations in practice and delivery, reducing risk for users, clinical tools and evaluating impact of interventions or policies. The conference provides a valuable opportunity for discourse and networking across the different disciplines involved in this challenging area.   There were delegates from 71 countries and more than 1200 participants attended. Moreover there were over 500 oral presentations, 200 posters and 20 keynote speakers.