- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Nearly 50,000 (48,738) domestic incidents and five homicides recorded last year across Wales
“Domestic abuse is an issue for all of Wales” was the strong message to come out of the End Violence against Women event at the National Assembly for Wales (Wednesday 23 November).
White Ribbon campaigner Joyce Watson AM, who hosted the event, said:
“Domestic abuse is an issue for all of Wales, rural as well as urban. If you feel isolated or endangered in your own home and you live in a rural community, help can feel a long way away.”
Social Justice Minister Carl Sargeant outlined the Welsh Government’s commitment to changing attitudes to domestic violence through campaigns such as Live Fear Free.
Chief Constable Carmel Napier, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on Domestic Abuse, Honour Based Violence, Stalking and Harassment, outlined police partnership work to tackle this issue.
Jocelyn Davies AM was elected as Chair of the Assembly Cross Party Group on Violence Against Women and Children.
The Welsh Rugby Union support the White Ribbon campaign encourages men to take responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women, saying:
“The WRU is pleased to support the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women in all its forms. The Union is proud to have been actively involved in promoting White Ribbon activity and wishes the organisers every success in achieving their aims and objectives for this extremely important cause.”
Police recorded 48,738 incidents across Wales last year, including 11,759 arrests and five homicides, and Dyfed Powys Police recorded 1,943 domestic incidents.
There were 14,528 calls to the Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline, and 1,975 people entered Welsh refuges last year.
Domestic abuse accounts for a quarter of recorded crime in England and Wales, and in many instances children are witnesses to this abuse. 45% of women have experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
Mrs Watson has sold White Ribbons and has organised a series of events to raise awareness of the White Ribbon campaign to stop violence against women. She has organised a Candle-lit Service at Brecon Cathedral (7pm Friday 25 November) with Brecknock Women’s Aid. She will also join local campaigners to sell white ribbons at the Co-op, Ystradgynlais at lunchtime Friday 25 November then at the Co-op, Llandrindod Wells at lunchtime Saturday 26 November.
Mrs Watson continued: “It’s not just physical violence which has a devastating effect. I know of one woman who was kept a prisoner in her own home, without any money, who had to ask her children for their pocket money to pay for her personal hygiene products.”
Mrs Watson, who is the Chair of the National Assembly Cross Party Group on Human Trafficking, added:
“Abuse is abhorrent to most men, and I am convinced that men are the key to creating a culture in which domestic violence is unacceptable. The White Ribbon Campaign plays an important role in raising awareness amongst men of the prevalence of domestic violence, and this good work must continue.”
Mrs Watson has raised awareness and fundraised for the White Ribbon campaign for several years. Two years ago she recruited sporting ambassadors to raise awareness of the issue, and the Welsh Rugby Union continued this work. Last year she raised over £1,000 selling white ribbons across Brecon and Radnorshire, other parts of Powys and in the Welsh Assembly.
Joyce also set up and chairs the Assembly All Party group on Trafficking. She published a report on trafficking in Wales Bordering on Concern, which called for an anti-trafficking co-ordinator for Wales to be appointed. Bob Tooby was appointed to this role in March.
Paula Hardy, Chief Executive of Welsh Women’s Aid said: ‘The continued commitment of all party members to tackling gender based violence is to be welcomed, to date much progress has been made, but there is still more work that needs to be done. Welsh Women’s Aid welcome the establishment and launch of the Cross Party Violence Against Women and Children Group, enabling the Violence Against Women sector and the Assembly Members to work together to seek solutions to address and raise awareness of all forms of Violence Against Women.’