Since lockdowns began, the world has been shocked by the staggering rise in violence against women. The UN has coined this rise a ‘shadow pandemic’, as those trapped in the homes of their abusers have been offered little help or support.
Many reports have confirmed that domestic abuse has risen sharply in line with coronavirus and lockdowns. The Office for National Statistics reported that between 1st April and 30th June 2020, domestic abuse-related crimes increased by 24% when compared with the same period in 2019. Furthermore, calls to a national domestic abuse hotline rose by a staggering 49% and killings doubled weeks after the first lockdown was imposed in April last year.
This isn’t just a UK-specific problem. The UN has called for a “ceasefire” amid the “horrifying global surge” in domestic abuse and the European Union claims that member states reported up to a 60% increase domestic abuse emergency instances in April 2020 alone.
To understand the prevalence of this abuse in the UK, the government has launched a survey. This survey is important because it will help the government to ensure it tackles this rising problem in the most effective and strategic way possible. It will help to ensure that efforts and funding are orchestrated wisely and that knowledge gaps about the law can be adequately resolved through education programmes and communication strategies.
To demonstrate how effective strategic policy changes can be, let’s look at Denmark. Only a few weeks ago, Denmark passed pioneering legislation that criminalises sexual acts that occur without explicit consent. This resulted in an immediate 75% rise in rape reporting. Policy changes and government initiatives can change public attitudes and awareness.
You can help the UK government understand this problem by participating in the Home Office’s call for evidence and completing their public survey. This survey is open to anyone with “lived experiences of, or views on, crimes considered as violence against women and girls”. The deadline for completing the survey is 11.45pm on the 19th February 2021 and it will take up to 10 minutes to complete.
The Home Office has also called upon academics and others who have interest and expertise in violence against women and girls to submit relevant published data, research and reports. Further information on the submission process can be found here.
Once you have completed the survey, please pass it on to your friends, family and co-workers, who may be interested in doing the same. This survey is vital for increasing our understanding of this important issue, especially with coronavirus still raging and lockdown likely to continue for a while yet. It will steer policies that can change lives and can widen access to vital education and services to all.
The Whitehouse team are experts in equalities and human rights, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the world. More information about our human rights experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at firstname.lastname@example.org.