Karin Smyth MP: “This country is currently in the grip of an epidemic of appalling violence committed by men against women and girls.”

After securing a debate in Parliament on violence against women and girls (VAWG), Karin Smyth – MP for Bristol South and Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party – has detailed how the United Kingdom is in the grip of an epidemic of violence.

This debate was secured via the Backbench Business Committee to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls – which took place on the 25th November 2022.

The statistics make for grim reading:

• A woman is killed every three days.
• Women murder victims are now at a 15 year high.
• For the year ending March 2020, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 7.1% of adults aged 16 to 74 years had experienced sexual assault by rape or penetration since the age of 16.
• There were 260,000 domestic abuse offences between March and June 2020 alone.
• Recent research by UN Women UK found that 71% of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment in a public space, rising to 86% among 18-to-24-year-olds.
• Rape prosecutions and convictions are at an historic low.
• Only 1 in 7 rape victims believed they would receive justice by reporting the crime to the police.
• In the first national coronavirus lockdown, a fifth of women and girls aged 14-to-21 were catcalled, followed, groped, flashed or upskirted. This rose to 51% during the summer months.

Karin Smyth raised the important issue that women’s economic circumstances are one of the main issues that need addressing by the Government. The cost of living crisis will drive up greater pressures on women to live free from violence and abuse.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South and Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, said:

“We need to stop talking about violence against women and girls in the abstract. It is violence at home. In the playground. In the workplace. On the walk home from school and across social media. It can be short, sharp and brutal; it can be sexual and degrading; it can be insidious and coercive; it can be hidden behind closed doors or hiding in plain sight.

“As Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, I pressed home the need for the Government to act now to get its house in order. We need proper, detailed data gathering on attacks against women and girls. This must mean sex-disaggregated in order to fully understand the impact of all crimes.

“I hope before we gather again next year that not only have the statistics become slightly less depressing and the government response slightly less dispiriting. The Government must take steps to tackle women’s economic inequality as a failure to do so will perpetuate male violence against women and girls. The cost of living crisis has created more threats to women’s safety and must be addressed.”

A full transcript of Karin Smyth MP’s speech can be accessed here.