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We must do more in Wales to prevent violence against women – and support survivors

28 Nov 2019 5 minute read
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Leena Sarah Farhat, Diversity officer for the Welsh Liberal Democrats

This week saw the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is an issue which has and continues to impact thousands of women across Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats recognize the urgent need to prevent violence against women and girls and abuse, and support survivors.

Violence against women is a broad term but is defined by the United Nations and others as acts of violence which are suffered disproportionally by women that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Violence against women can be understood to encompass but not be limited to physical, sexual and psychological violence:

  • occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
  • occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;
  • perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.

Violence against women is a crime and that must be reflected in all legal systems in Europe. It is only by working together and acknowledging the problem that we can put a stop to this category of violence.

Not all violence against women occurs within a context of traditional power relations, perpetrators’ behaviour stems from a sense of entitlement supported by sexist, racist, disablist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes, behaviours and systems that maintain and reproduce inequality.



We at the Welsh Liberal Democrats are taking a multidimensional approach to this issue.

We want to make sure that we ratify and bring into law the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. We believe it is by working this our European community that we can find the best solutions to this important issue.

We would pass a law for a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes its effects on children. This form of violence and abuse are predominantly experienced by women and girls, and perpetrated by men, however, men and boys can also be victims and women can also be perpetrators. In 2014/15 domestic abuse cases, 92.4% of defendants were male and, where recorded, 84% of the victims were female.

We also think that it is imperative that we expand the number of refugees and rape crisis centres to meet demand. Women and girls find a lot of hope and help in these types of centers, with people who understand their plight.

We would also ensure sustainable grant-funding for specialist independent support services. I have had the privilege of meeting a few organizations such as Welsh Women’s Aid / Cymorth i Ferched Cymru, a well-established group who work across Wales and smaller charities such as Women Survivors Support Project, a grow of incredibly strong women working out of Carmarthen across West Wales. Both have helped me on my personal journey surrounding my own experiences.

We need to make sure that we give local authorities the duty and funding to provide accommodation and support for survivors of abuse. It is known that local authorities are under a lot of pressure as it is but it is undeniable that violence against women and girls has knock-on effects that would in the long run, help rebuild our fractured communities.


We also need to establish a national rape crisis helpline. I cannot begin to explain the fear, the shame and loneliness that comes with most of these incidences and a simple solution such as a helpline can be the defining factor, whether you live in a busy town and you think that no one will listen, or the countryside where it is easy to find yourself isolated and alone.

Finally, we want to ensure access to special measures for survivors in all courts and preventing direct cross-examination of survivors by their abusers. This sounds obvious but it is currently not the case. Many women stand up for themselves, only to encounter their abuser playing a part in the justice system. This cannot be right, safe or even legal.

Women and girls are entitled to the best protection that we have to offer. This is is one found across Wales from our rural communities to our cities, from homes to our workplaces and educational institutions.

As a Welsh woman, I demand better for our women and girls. I will be fighting for that through my party but this is beyond a cross-party issue, it is a Welsh issue. My own experiences have shaped me as a person and I am recovering so that I can stand up for others more vulnerable than me.

As a Liberal that is my duty. I urge others to do the same.

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jr humphrys
jr humphrys
4 years ago

The aim should be to reduce and stop violence. It shames us, but then…
” Dowry-related “…….”FGM”………. “traditional practices harmful to women.”
Then, “expanding refugee centres”, and keep the whole cycle rolling?

4 years ago

Amethyst exists they are a great support for woman who have been sexually assaulted, you can go to them they will take statement and swabs and its up to you then if you want to take it further with the police. They will do that with you and the statement and evidence can then be handed over. They have great support workers too. So let’s not forget the great services that are already exist and work hard at supporting women.

max wallis
max wallis
4 years ago

This is refreshing, in that it does not try to extend the definition of women to include males who ‘self-ID’ as transwomen. Yet it does not say Welsh Lib-Dems oppose changes that allow male-bodied persons into women’s spaces, like women’s refuges and women’s prisons (with known instances of male sexual violence). Will the Welsh Lib-Dems endorse the DECLARATION ON WOMEN’S SEX-BASED RIGHTS, a statement on the importance of keeping the current sex based biological definition of woman? SUMMARY The Declaration outlines current international laws and policies on women’s rights and how they are being threatened by organisations that are trying… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
4 years ago
Reply to  max wallis

Max You are peeing into the wind as far as the “liberal” political orthodoxy in Wales is concerned. Starved of real challenges – apart from the odd nod to poverty, education, health etc – these dopey types prefer to pursue abstract causes inflating them into major ishoos when many of those actually engaged in transition are going about their business with minimal fuss. Rights of everybody need to be observed with the key underlying rule being that in exercising his/her rights no individual can infringe on others’. That’s a big ask as it involves genuine awareness and sensitivity not the… Read more »

jr humphrys
jr humphrys
4 years ago
Reply to  max wallis

I looked at the site and it does seem to be against schools messing with children’s heads at an early age.
Camille Paglia was talking once about so many of her friends “having a story”. (It’s still on You Tube).
One other thing; in our small villages, people did have their own way of dealing with such men………….

jr humphrys
jr humphrys
4 years ago
Reply to  jr humphrys

One such “Camille Paglia talks to Ella Whelan”.

Simon Gruffydd
4 years ago

Just came across this interesting report on the rise and incidence of domestic violence. Apparently the people most abused and at risk of suffering violent attack is bisexual women by their lesbian partner. Who would have thought? See: Domestic Violence in the LGB Community is Staggeringly High

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