Britain starts its largest-ever debate on violence against women

March 9th, 2009 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 9 (IANS) The British government Monday launched its largest-ever public consultation to tackle violence against women and girls, including a probe into the sexualisation of teenage girls.
Thousands in towns and cities across England are expected to take part in the consultation, which was launched by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and also includes a review into police powers for dealing with serial perpetrators of domestic violence.

A new opinion poll conducted by Ipsos Mori shows that more than a third of respondents know a woman who has been the victim of violence by a man she knows.

In addition, more than two in five respondents believe that a woman should be held, either partly or fully, responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was flirting heavily with the man before the attack.

The consultation will be held across 40 towns and cities across England over the next nine weeks.

The exercise is aimed at helping build a government strategy that will tackle persistent perpetrators, make women feel safer when they travel, and examine how schools can prevent violence against women, Smith said.

“We’ve already made real progress, with domestic violence incidents more than halving in the past 12 years and great improvements to the way rape victims are supported. But I want to start a national debate on what more we can do to prevent it and challenging attitudes which condone it,” Smith said.

“Most importantly I want to reduce the fear of serious violence that can infringe the absolute right of women to go about their lives free from fear.”

According to police figures, one in five of all violent crimes reported in Britain are related to domestic abuse and one in six of all murders are domestic violence-related homicides.

The government’s definition of violence against women includes stalking, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and other ‘honour’ related types of violence.

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