At SAFE we have called on local MPs to back a Bill being debated in Parliament on December 16th, aimed at bringing forward new legislation to prevent violence against women.

The Istanbul Convention is a comprehensive legal framework outlining minimum standards for a State’s response to violence against women and girls. It covers prevention, protection, prosecution and monitoring.

It would protect funding for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centres, and 24/7 helplines; ensure education on healthy relationships in schools, and guarantee awareness-raising campaigns.

The UK Government signed up to the Istanbul Convention law in June 2012 but has not yet ratified it. Now a Private Member’s Bill has been introduced by Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, which would require the Government to make it part of UK law.

If 100 MPs turn up for the debate this Friday and vote for the Bill, it will pass to the next stage.

At SAFE we work in many parts of Devon, and we are among a host of women’s organisations nationwide who believe the legislation is urgently needed.

Our Chief Executive Jacinta Wainwright said: “Domestic abuse and violence against women is a huge problem here in Devon. Not only does it have a devastating effect on victims and families – there is also a severe financial cost to society. Dealing with it puts a huge strain on our police force, the social services and the NHS.

“Organisations like SAFE are working extremely hard, with very limited funding, to support victims and their children and raise awareness, and change patterns of behaviour which lead to or perpetuate abuse.

“Domestic abuse is one of the biggest social problems facing our community, yet not nearly enough is being done about it.

“It would make a huge difference to have a proper legal framework for prevention, protection, prosecution and monitoring systems – and to have funding for our work guaranteed.

 “So we’ve emailed our local MPs this week asking them to attend the debate and vote for this Bill, on behalf of the women and girls in their constituencies.”

UPDATE -  The Bill passed its Second Reading by 135 votes to 2 and now progresses to Committee Stage.