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    16 Days of Activism – 16 Reasons Why

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    16 Days of Activism – 16 Reasons Why

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    As we draw near to the end of the 16 Days of Activism to eliminate violence against women and girls, it’s useful to reflect on why this campaign is so important. All of us can experience domestic and sexual violence, whatever our age, backgrounds or gender, but this particular campaign is about the massive cost to women and girls. Here are 16 reasons why we must keep highlighting this issue:

    1. In the UK, two to three women a week are murdered by their partner or ex-partner.
    2. One in four women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime.
    3. Men are also abused, but it’s still important to highlight the huge numbers of rapes, deaths and serious assaults against women.
    4. One in five women are stalked at some point in their lives.
    5. According to a 2022 study, only 1% of reported rapes of women result in a conviction.
    6. Women experience high levels of forced marriage, honour-based violence and sex trafficking.
    7. One in nine girls experience molestation or sexual assault.
    8. It was not made illegal to rape your wife until 1993. Most rapes of women and girls are by someone close to them.
    9. One in five women do not feel safe to walk alone at night.
    10. During military conflict, women and girls are at high risk of rape and sexual assault but this is routinely downplayed as a war crime.
    11. Breakdown companies know that lone women are at risk, that’s why they prioritise them if their vehicles breakdown.
    12. Most women escaping violence cannot access a refuge because they are usually full.
    13. Male violence against women is the leading cause of premature death globally.
    14. More than 650 million women alive today, were married as children.
    15. Girls who witness the abuse of their mother are more likely to become victims in later life.
    16. Domestic abuse is rarely viewed as a reason to stop child contact and some family courts penalise the mother for even mentioning it.

    STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS!

     

    Charlotte Woodward

    National Training Manager, NCDV

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    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”