South Yorkshire MP calls for cash to tackle violence against women and girls

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion
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Rotherham MP Sarah Champion is calling for funding to tackle violence against women and girls.

She spoke out after a review into a falling number of rape charges across the country was announced yesterday.

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The probe will assess the handling of alleged sexual offences to establish why there have been reductions in the numbers of cases referred, prosecuted and convicted.

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Ministers have also ordered new studies to be carried out into potential links between online pornography and attitudes to women, and the causes, impacts and influencers of body dissatisfaction.

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They are among a raft of measures contained in a refreshed Violence against Women and Girls strategy published yesterday.

But Ms Champion, the chairwoman of Parliament's all-party group on sexual violence, said that without increased funding, the strategy will not even ‘scratch the surface’ of the problem.

"The refreshed strategy commits no new money to address violence against women and girls," said the Labour MP, who has campaigned on behalf of abuse victims in Rotherham.

"The Government celebrates the £100 million spent since 2016, however the Home Office's own analysis found that domestic abuse cost £66 billion in 2017 alone.

"It is ridiculous to think such paltry commitments can scratch the surface of the problem. We need a cross-government strategic fund that spends money on services to save it further down the line."

Unveiling the refreshed action plan, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It is not acceptable that in today's society, one in four women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, and one in five will experience sexual violence.

"As a father, I want to see my children grow up in a world where violence against women and girls is a thing of the past, and where they have no reason to fear those closest to them."

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, welcomed the review.

She said: "Despite a huge increase in the numbers of women reporting rape to the police over the last five years, there has been an alarming recent collapse in the rate of cases being charged.

"Women who report rape can be made to feel it is they who are under investigation and on trial and we need to turn this around."