In a debate to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women and girls Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price warned the Government that much more needs to be done to support victims of sexual violence at home.
She said, “It is about time that we started delivering, and making those interventions that challenge men and male behaviour. Let us not mince our words: this is male violence against women and girls; these are crimes perpetrated by men. In this place, men often take rather too much comfort in talk about great advances in equality, but the day-to-day lived experience of women is still poor.”
She added, “the trauma faced by any woman who is a victim of sexual violence is significant and lifelong. We must ensure that we deliver on our promises. We have enshrined in the NHS a commitment to a lifetime therapeutic care pathway for any victim of sexual violence. In practice, that does not happen. We know that very many women still wait for counselling months and months after an incident, and we know that is a barrier to bringing perpetrators to justice. When women relive what has happened to them, they re-traumatise themselves. They need support, but the NHS commitment is just words. Up and down this country, the local commissioning required to deliver it is not happening. We see victims of sexual violence as items of evidence. Their experience of trying to secure justice is utterly dehumanising.”
The Thurrock MP closed by laying down a blunt challenge, “In this place, we too often approach these issues from the perspective of the pointy-elbowed middle classes, and the most vulnerable in our society are left behind. I will not stop beating up Ministers in debates like this one until we have proper protection for women in prisons. We are seeing sex offenders self-identifying as women and being able to enter women’s prisons; we had a rape only very recently. That has to be tackled. And I will not be happy, either, until someone engaged in sex work who is murdered receives as much attention as a nice, pretty middle-class girl.”