Lib Dems call for right to specialist support for survivors of sexual violence

Today Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson, will introduce a Bill to make access to specialist support services for victims of sexual violence and abuse a right. 

Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Conservative Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – signed in 2012 – as a matter of urgency.

Munira’s Bill is part of a package of measures the Liberal Democrats are introducing to mark International Women’s Day 2020. 

Ahead of introducing the Bill, Munira Wilson said: “No survivor of sexual abuse or domestic violence should be left without access to specialist support. This is non-negotiable and this Bill would make it a right, not a privilege.

“Cases like that of Fern Champion show the shocking reality: the level of funding for rape crisis centres and refuges is completely inadequate, leaving survivors vulnerable. The Tories’ failure to act to improve the system shows callous disregard for those people affected by domestic violence and abuse.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to secure a guarantee of specialist support for anyone affected by domestic violence or sexual abuse. That is why we are asking the Government to show real leadership, take this Bill forward and ratify the Istanbul Convention – signed in 2012 – as a matter of urgency.”

Campaigner, Fern Champion, said: “Survivors of sexual violence have been let down time and time again by a series of governments who have failed to take the under-funding of rape support services seriously. Two years ago I found myself unable to get onto a rape crisis waiting list and it is utterly shameful that there are still women in that position today.

“In a civil society it should simply be a given that victims of abuse are able to access the specialist support they need as and when they ask for it. It is deplorable that years of systemic failings mean that we now have to turn to legislation to promote what should already exist.

“Nobody should have to fight this hard to live a life free from the devastating effects of sexual and domestic violence. That is why I’m urging MPs to back this Liberal Democrat bill giving survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse the right to access specialist support.”

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