Statement from JWA on the draft Domestic Violence Bill 

CEO Naomi Dickson, 5 February 2019

Jewish Women's Aid welcomes the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and are pleased that in the current political climate, the government are prioritising domestic abuse and the safety of women.

We are glad that economic abuse is named as an abusive behaviour and are very pleased that the government is recruiting for a Commissioner to support their response to domestic abuse – we feel that this will raise the profile of the sector as a whole and amplify the voice of the sector and the women it represents. We welcome the fact that the government values specialist domestic abuse services like Jewish Women’s Aid, which provide a soft landing and much-needed support for abused women.  Uncertain and diminishing budgets make the work of services like ours harder every year and the bill has the potential to change this, and make a real difference to the lives of women and children affected by domestic abuse and violence.

We are concerned though that the role of the Commissioner is limited to domestic abuse, and not extended to include the range of behaviours perpetrated against women and girls, for example sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and would welcome the inclusion of these.   We are pleased that the Government wants to prevent domestic abuse, and feel that this needs to be strongly linked with effective relationships and sex education.  This has been consulted on but the Government’s guidance via the Department of Education could be developed further – the current guidance is still in draft form, and doesn't obligate schools to follow a specific curriculum of topics around teaching about healthy sex and relationships at the moment.  By investing in this and in early interventions, the Government could further improve the response to domestic abuse and we look forward to working with them and with organisations such as Women’s Aid to develop this, so that women no longer need to live in fear.

If you are affected by domestic abuse, please call JWA’s Freephone helpline on 0808 801 0500 or email [email protected].