Wales is leading the way when it comes to tackling violence against women and domestic abuse, says Wales’ National Advisers on the issue.
Nazir Afzal, a former chief prosecutor who took a lead role in the Rochdale sex trafficking prosecution case and Yasmin Khan, founder of a charity tackling honour-based violence have been the Welsh Government’s National Advisers on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence - referred to as VAWDASV - since January 2018.
They released their annual report today [Monday 30] setting out the government’s progress, highlights and priorities for 2018 to 2019. They also reflected on the challenges being faced, and the action needed, across Wales.
Yasmin and Nazir advise the Welsh Government on how most effectively to implement Wales’ pioneering Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015.
They also work with victims and survivors and with partner organisations to shape and inform improvements in the way services are planned, commissioned and delivered.
In a joint statement, Yasmin and Nazir said:
The VAWDASV Act remains, in our view, one of the greatest achievements of the Welsh Government and allows us to say, with no qualification, that where Wales leads, the rest of the UK follows.
We must ensure services across Wales are accessible to all; supporting victims and survivors to seek help and ensuring professionals have the tools and knowledge to act; improving awareness of VAWDASV and the support available; and helping children and young people to understand inequality in relationships and that abusive behaviour is always wrong.
We do recognise, however, there is still so much to improve for those at risk of harm; this includes better understanding of the risks of vulnerability in rural areas and how to respond to the sensitivities of rural culture and communities.
The Advisers’ annual report also looks to the future, putting children and young people at the fore. Outlining how the new curriculum for Wales, due in 2022, can best address the issues of VAWDASV, the Advisers said:
Prevention remains the key to eliminating VAWDASV and education is at its heart. We are drawing on expertise to engage women and families to provide a counter-narrative to ensure there is no miscommunication or misunderstandings around the proposed Relationships and Sexuality Education element of the Health and Wellbeing Area of Learning Experience within the new curriculum.