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International Women’s Day : 8th March 2018

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? The United Nation’s call it “ a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women”. The 2018 celebration comes at a time of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality, and justice. The hashtag #TimeisNow encourages women to transform the momentum into action and empower all women.

The celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day is also a time to reflect upon the development of domestic abuse. Under new guidelines published by the Sentencing Council perpetrators of domestic abuse are more likely to be sent to prison – even if emotional/psychological harm is inflicted rather than physical harm alone. New advice for judges extends the actions of serious violence that typically result in custodial sentences to cases where emotional/psychological harm caused is severe. Abuse is not limited to physical violence but may also be perpetrated through controlling what somebody wears, isolating them from friends/family, controlling their access to money, threatening telephone calls, text messages, email, social media or via GPS tracking devices.

In February 2018 Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced plans in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill to ensure domestic abuse survivors will not have to come face to face with their former partners in court. “The purpose is about making sure that victims have more confidence to come forward, more confidence about feeling safe, and we can be more certain of getting the convictions that they expect and we all want,” she said. The Home Secretary also announced a £20m fund committed to refuges until 2020, providing 2,200 additional bed spaces, which have been used by 19,000 women so far.

The scope and impact of domestic abuse has never been more widely felt and it sends a clear message: it is unacceptable and perpetrators will be held accountable for the abuse. On International Women’s Day 2018 we acknowledge the gendered nature of domestic abuse and continue in our goals to prevent domestic abuse, direct relevant help and services to those affected and protect the people that need us.

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