Two women a week die from domestic violence; legal aid cuts will see more

Jonny Mulligan of the Sound off for Justice campaign writes about the disastrous consequences of justice secretary Ken Clarke's cuts to legal aid.

By Jonny Mulligan of the Sound off for Justice campaign

Two women a week die from domestic violence – cuts in legal aid will see more die. If the government cuts legal aid one of the first major casualties will be women’s rights and an increase domestic violence. Are we to go back to the dark ages where women were forced to endure anything a man inflicted on them?

The government’s own figures estimate that every week two women die as victims of domestic violence. This is why in supporting the campaign Emma Scott director of Rights of Women, has made it clear that, for the government, it’s all about saving money; for us, it’s all about saving lives.

It is hard to believe Theresa May, Caroline Spelman and Baroness Wilcox would sign up to do anything that would mitigate against all the good work they did in opposition. They were the Conservatives who led the way in developing policies and opportunities for women, with the publication of the Conservative Women’s Organisation Conservative Party Policies for Women document.

They promised:

“A Conservative government will follow a joined-up, common sense approach to women’s issues and make our society fairer for everybody.”

Why would they do a u-turn on this promise?

A survey conducted by Rights of Women, conducted in January this year, show that 100% of respondents were concerned about violence against women:

• More than 50% had suffered domestic violence or abuse;

• Of these, over half chose not to report it to the police or to apply to the courts for protection;

• Victims of gender-based violence also needed advice on divorce (33%) children (24%) and housing (24%) according to the surveys.

The Sound off for Justice plan will save money for the taxpayer and save more lives – if the current proposals are adopted, women will have to deal with all these issues on their own.

Sound off for justice has the support of the Womens Institute, Netmums, Gingerbread and Eves Housing. We have all lobbied equalities minister Lynne Featherstone on this issue but she is yet to grasp the knock-on effect of these cuts or the implications for women. We hope a discussion in public will help her, and other key decision and policy makers on this issue.

If David Cameron would listen on the NHS why will he not listen to the victims of domestic violence? That’s why we’re asking the public and politicians to make their voices heard in support of a better alternative to Ken Clarke’s current plan.

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