The Full Council on Wednesday 23rd of January, Councillors overwhelmingly backed a motion tabled by Councillor Eve McQuillan, Mayoral Advisor for Tackling Poverty and Inequality which committed the council to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
The motion also called on the Government to do more to safeguard vital services which support women who have been victims of violence, many of these have been decimated by government cuts.
Mayor John Biggs and Deputy Mayor Asma Begum recently signed Tower Hamlets Council up to a charter committing the council to tackling VAWG.
The motion noted the shocking statistics that approximately 70% of all known victims of interpersonal violence in Tower Hamlets are female and 1 in 3 women and girls will experience gender based violence. In the UK, two women are murdered each week by a current or former partner, and 1 in 5 will be raped in her lifetime.
Since 2010, VAWG services nationally have been decimated as a result of austerity.
Nationally, the majority of women who seek a refuge space are turned away because there is not enough capacity.
The motion expressed concern about other government policies such as the introduction of Universal Credit, which creates a single account for a whole household. This presents a possible risk that perpetrators will gain control over a victim’s finances.
Housing benefit is also currently being used to fund refuge spaces. The motion called for ring-fenced funding for domestic violence services so that they are available for anyone who needs them, regardless of immigration status or income.
Mayor John Biggs said:
‘’Since I was elected in 2015 I have protected funding for VAWG services, despite central government cutting the council’s core funding by 64% since 2010. I was pleased to vote with my fellow councillors in favour of this motion, which calls for Government to do more to protect the most vulnerable victims’’.
Cllr Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities said:
‘’The council launched its VAWG charter in November, as part of the Mayor’s manifesto commitment to tackle violence against women and girls. The council carries out a lot of work to support Women and Girls, and are fully committed to tackling gender based violence’’.