Update from Nazir Afzal and Yasmin Khan on progress in achieving the Welsh Government’s commitment to moving towards Wales being the safest place in Europe for a woman.
As National Advisers to the Welsh Government on Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, we thought it prudent to publish a statement half way through our term of office to highlight what has been achieved and what more is being done.
Suffice to say, there has been significant progress in moving towards a Wales that is the safest place in Europe for a woman. We also believe that all vulnerable people at risk can be assured that the Welsh Government commitment to protecting them, preventing harm and supporting those who have been harmed, is stronger than ever.
The ground-breaking communication campaigns, “This is Me,” “Don’t be a bystander” and “This is not love. This is control.” have increased awareness of the diversity of Welsh citizens, the responsibility on all of us to be alive to the fact that someone nearby may be suffering, and the recognition that abuse does not always involve physical violence but is no less impactful if it doesn’t. We know many more victims have received help as a result of this heightened awareness.
Add to that the 158,000+ public servants who have now received training in spotting the signs of abuse through the government’s National Training Framework. Both of us have worked extensively throughout the UK and internationally, and we know what an extraordinary effort this continues to be. If we think of abuse as an epidemic, then nothing less than an emergency response will do.
The publication recently of the first ever (anywhere in the UK) National Indicators to measure how public authorities are doing in this area is testament to that.
There is recognition that our international obligations will be met and the letter from the First Minister to the UK government urging them to ratify the vital International Istanbul Convention is clear evidence that Wales wants to lead and take the rest of the UK with us.
We recognise sustainable funding of services for victims remains challenging, but are heartened by the cross-government work in this area. Government cannot fund everything, but by working with partners including health, Police & Crime Commissioners and local authorities, there should be fewer victims impacted by UK government financial decisions.
There is much innovation taking place and being planned. All of it involving victims and survivors through formal consultation. NO victim should be left behind.
The tragedy is that we cannot prevent all harm, so the efforts being undertaken in Education around relationships and gender equality is especially important. It’s how we will bring real change when we can honestly say that the next generation will not only manage the risks but entirely eliminate them.
Nazir Afzal OBE and Yasmin Khan