Leading article: A betrayal of victims of domestic abuse


Saturday 03 March 2012 01:00

The Government was already in trouble with Britain's women – what with the Prime Minister's series of rather patronising remarks and the protests from feminist groups that the Chancellor's budget cuts fall harder on one gender than the other.

When it comes to domestic violence, however, the stakes are higher – and the cumulative effect of recent policy changes more alarming. On average, two women are killed by a partner or ex-partner every single week. But changes to legal aid rules will leave nearly half of the victims of domestic violence without the means to bring their abusers to justice. And now figures revealed by Freedom of Information requests show that funding for refuge centres for abused women dropped by nearly a third last year.

The sums of money involved are, in governmental terms, tiny. Neither is it acceptable simply to shrug responsibility for the cuts on to local authorities.

Next week, Theresa May is expected to announce pilots of "Clare's Law", under which women can ask police whether their partner has a history of domestic violence. The move is a welcome one. But if the Home Secretary wants to prove the Government takes women's concerns seriously, she will have to do ever so much more.

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