MP Julian Huppert has backed a call to the government to make sure women suffering domestic violence and their children have a safe place to go.
He has co-sponsored a Parliamentary 10 Minute Rule Bill which would ensure that there was a network of women's refuges around the country, and ensure local authorities do not insist on restricting access only to women living in a particular town or city.
The Bill, presented to Parliament yesterday (Wednesday, December 17) by Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, has been drawn up after some refuges became the targets of local authority cuts.
Julian said: “We have come a long way in recognising domestic violence and encouraging women to seek help safe in the knowledge that someone will listen. But when they do come forward we need to make sure there is a safe place for them and their children to go. Turning them away because they are not local is abhorrent - women and children fleeing domestic violence are often best advised to go to a different city from the abuser.
“This Bill aims to make sure that local authorities meet a set of rules to safeguard these refuges and give victims a chance to escape the perpetrators. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lives – this is a startling statistic and one that demands our full attention.”
Julian welcomed the government’s recent £10 million investment in women’s refuges but added that it needed to go further.
He said that women were now having the confidence to come forward and report domestic violence but that around a third of all victims are turned down by the refuges where they seek help.
“Behind these statistics are real lives,” added Julian. “These are women and children running away from dangerous situations in their own homes and they must have places where they can feel safe and get the support to rebuild their lives.”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: “We very much welcome the debate in Parliament today on refuge funding. A long-term funding solution for specialist refuges is vital to ensure the safety of women and children fleeing domestic violence.
“We thank Julian Huppert, MP, for his co-sponsorship of this Bill, and his continued support for our campaign to ensure there is a safe space for every women and child fleeing domestic violence who needs it.”
The Bill is scheduled to have its Second Reading in Parliament on January 23, 2015.