- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Local Assembly Member Joyce Watson AM teamed up with local campaigners and Radnorshire Women’s Aid to raise money and awareness of the issue of domestic violence on Saturday 26 November. Llandrindod people donated over £57 to help people suffering domestic violence.
Cllr Sandra Davies, leader of Powys Labour group and Mike Sivier, Llandrindod Wells Labour Party Secretary joined Joyce to sell ribbons at the town centre Co-operative store, then Mr Sivier collected at The Herb Garden in Llandrindod and at The Severn Arms, Penybont.
Joyce Watson organised a series of events to mark White Ribbon Day, the international day to end violence against women, including a Candelit service at Brecon Cathedral.
Joyce Watson AM, who is the Chair of the National Assembly Cross Party Group on Human Trafficking, said:
“In the last ten years there have been 12 homicides in the Dyfed Powys Police area – seven of those involved domestic abuse.
“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.
“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.”
Cllr Sandra Davies added: “It’s an issue for us all, which we all need to play our part in, particularly at this time of year, with the pressures of the Christmas season approaching.”
Mrs Watson sold White Ribbons and organised a series of events to raise awareness of the White Ribbon campaign to stop violence against women. She joined local campaigners to sell white ribbons at the Co-op, Ystradgynlais, then organised a Candle-lit Service at Brecon Cathedral with Brecknock Women’s Aid (Friday 25 November) and sold white ribbons at the Co-op, Llandrindod Wells the following day.
Radnorshire Women’s Aid Manager Ruth Parry Wright and Trustee Elaine Blair both supported the event.
Ruth Parry Wright said: “We were delighted by the warm support we received from local people, and their donations will be put to great use.”
It is Radnorshire Women’s Aid’s 30th anniversary next year, and they are planning a series of events to raise awareness of the issues facing victims of domestic abuse, culminating in a big celebration of their achievements next year on White Ribbon Day 2012.
Over 80 people travelled from far and wide to share the first ever Brecon Cathedral Candlelit Service to mark White Ribbon Day. It was so successful that the date has already been agreed to hold it again next year.
In a moving service, with a range of speakers, readings, prayers, poems, songs and music, there was a chance for all to light candles. The service was taken by The Reverend Michael Thomas. The Dean of Brecon, the Very Reverend Geoffrey Osborne Marshall, flew back from the Holy Land to give the blessing, help people light candles and end with a message of peace and hope.
Speakers included organiser Joyce Watson AM; Chief Constable Carmel Napier, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on Domestic Abuse, Honour Based Violence, Stalking and Harassment; Kirsty Williams AM; Sue Gardener of Brecknock Women’s Aid; Detective Inspector Gary Mills of Dyfed Powys Police; Jan Pickles, NSPCC, Joe Bovingdon Wood, with music by Meirion Wynn Jones.
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.
The Welsh Rugby Union sent a message of support, 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.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones sent a letter, which Joyce Watson AM read out. It said:
I am writing in response to your kind initiation to the candle-lit event in Brecon Cathedral and I am sorry that I will be unable to attend.
Tackling violence against women remains a top priority for the Welsh Government and we are determined to challenge out-dated attitudes towards women by taking forward ‘The Right to be Safe’, our strategy for tackling all forms of violence against women.
We have made good progress in the past twelve months through partnership and collaboration across the public and voluntary sectors. However, there is more to be achieved if we are to create a Wales this is fair to all. Violence against women is often hidden and remains not only a serious violation of basic human rights but a major obstacle to the achievement of equality between women and men.
The White Ribbon Campaign has done much around the world to raise awareness and ensure we all take greater responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.
I wish you and all those who continue to work to reduce violence against women my best wishes and sincere thanks.
The event was supported by Brecon & District Soroptomists, Brecon & Swansea Diocese Mothers Union, Dyfed Powys Police, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Powys Domestic Abuse Forum. There were stalls, with mulled wine and mince pies provided by Women’s Aid volunteers.
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, 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.