Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said "Today, we are launching an emergency petition to the government, because we are seeing established women-led domestic abuse services lose local authority funding. This has to be stopped before it leads to more women and children dying. Our local Women’s Aid member services around the country are saving the lives of women and children every day, and many have been running for decades. The decision by some local authorities to commission ‘gender-neutral’ services disregards the evidence that women experience the most severe domestic abuse; are more likely to be killed by their abuser; and that women experiencing domestic abuse need access to women-only support. Women need to trust a service and feel safe to be able access support, especially if they are leaving their home to move into a refuge with their children. Many will be living with long-term trauma, and will need specialist support to rebuild their lives.
The domestic abuse bill reaches report stage today in the House of Lords, and although the bill requires councils to fund accommodation for survivors, nowhere does it mention the words ‘women’s refuges’. Coupled with the current government plan to separate domestic abuse from the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy, this will only serve to encourage more ‘gender neutral’ responses to domestic abuse. 91% of domestic violence crimes that cause injuries are against women, and three women every fortnight are being killed by a current or former partner in the UK. Women-led domestic abuse services are under threat, and there will be severe consequences for women and children if we do not stop this now.”
The petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/577718
"Petition: Require local authorities to fund specific domestic abuse services for women
The Government should recognise that domestic abuse is a gendered crime and women are the majority of victims and the vast majority of severe injury and domestic homicide victims, and require local authorities to fund specific domestic abuse services for women.
We're very concerned that a number of local authorities are commissioning services with a ‘gender neutral’ approach, which in practice is defunding women’s refuges and lifesaving violence against women services. Evidence shows that women experiencing domestic abuse need access to women-only support. We need action now, as government plans to separate domestic abuse from the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy could only serve to encourage more ‘gender neutral’ responses to domestic abuse."