That we have not yet ratified the Istanbul convention sends a dangerous message about how serious the British Government is about ending violence against women.
We are living in a world where a woman in England and Wales is more likely to be raped than she is to get breast cancer, and yet many survivors are still unable to access specialist sexual violence provision in their area. Our counselling and helpline services are experiencing unprecedented demand from women and girls who are seeking specialist support for the life-changing impacts of sexual violence. This increase has been recognised by the most recent Crime Survey of England and Wales as grounded in part in the ‘Yewtree effect’, an acknowledgment that the social landscape in Britain today is one where disclosures of sexual violence are splashed across the front pages daily - a landscape where survivors are continually reminded of the violence perpetrated against them. Our team of Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) are providing expert court-based advocacy for rapidly increasing numbers of women every year, women who deserve the Government’s commitment to protection and improving prosecution. Our training, prevention and outreach teams are struggling to meet the demand for preventative work in schools and other youth settings; demand coming from teachers and parents who recognise the exceptional levels of sexual violence experienced by young girls today.
Rape Crisis South London (the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre) wholly supports the #ICchange campaign for the British Government to stand with us to end violence against women in all its forms, and ratify the Istanbul Convention as a matter of urgency.