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Commitments to Tackling Sexual Violence

14.06.24 | Blog

As the lead up to the General Election continues, this week saw each of the political parties launch their Manifestos. We Are Survivors had already launched our own (click here to download) and in it we were asking all political parties and candidate to ensure tackling sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation is taken as a priority into the next Parliament.

We asked all parties to adopt our three asks:

  • Remove male victims from the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, making all the work and effort focused solely on this scourge of society and UK wide epidemic.
  • Develop a new strategy to tackle the impact of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation on boys and men, regardless of when the experience took place.
  • Review the Sexual Offences Act pertaining to the definition of rape to include victims of crimes currently reflected in the ‘forced to penetrate’ research and evidence.

Whilst we were not expecting any party to take exactly what we asked for into their Manifestos, we have set out our stall in what we will focus on in the same period as the next Government, in order to make our vision of ensuring No Male Survivor Is Left Behind a reality.

So we know what we’re saying and what we want to do, the big question is what are the main parties saying themselves? In an attempt to find out, we read all the manifestos available (Conservatives, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Reform UK) and undertook a desktop review of each.

Opening each document in a digital reader programme, we used the ‘search’ function and looked for the words or phrases:

  • Abuse
  • Boys
  • Male Survivor
  • Male Victim
  • Men
  • Rape
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Sexual Offence
  • Survivor
  • VAWG
  • Victim
  • Violence Against Women and Girls

Wherever a word or phrase appeared, we read the whole section to ensure that we had the relevant context and ensured that any section on crime or policing were read in full. We collated all the direct quotes and summarised longer paragraphs into the relevant promise or commitment, and the results are as follows.

All manifestos’ directly reference women and girls as victims of sexual offences, and all manifestos’ directly used the phrasing “tackling violence against women and girls”.

In relation to male victims of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation, no manifesto made specific references to boys and men, although occasionally, the word ‘victims’ was used (albeit interchangeably with the word women) when talking about sexual violence crimes and victims / survivors.

We once again, call on all political parties to understand our three asks; recognise tackling violence against women and girls requires us to have a strategy that only includes data, ideas, plans on women and girls; separately understand the impact of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation on male victims, particularly in light of the biggest rape case in British legal history being 100% male victims; and legally recognise victims of ‘forced to penetrate’ crimes as victims of rape.

To give you a better understanding of details in each party manifesto, we have listed in bullet points the key ‘take aways’ connected to sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation.

In the following summary, we will abbreviate the phrase ‘Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls’ to VAWG; will replace ‘victim’ with ‘victim/survivor’; but will keep women/girl/female as is if that was the phrase used in the document; and will retain GBV (Gender Based Violence) as a phrase if that was used originally in that specific manifesto.

 

Conservative Party Manifesto

  • The document has a specific section on VAWG (page 44).
  • For the first time, VAWG will be made a strategic policing requirement, making it clear to the Police that VAWG crimes are to be classed as significant as terrorism, serious organised crime and child sexual abuse.
  • The law will be strengthened to punish ‘predators’ with the new offences for stalking, controlling or coercive behaviour, non-fatal strangulation and suffocation, sharing intimate images or revenge porn, non-consensual taking of images of a woman breastfeeding, ‘up skirting’ and raised maximum penalties for harassment.
  • Legislation will be created for new offences of spiking, creation of sexualised deep fake images, and taking of images without consent.
  • Support victims/survivors of domestic abuse through Domestic Abuse Act.
  • Introduce a 25 year prison term for domestic murder, regardless of whether a weapon is used.
  • Introduce an aggravating factor for murders that happen in the context of ‘rough sex’ so it’s never used as an excuse to get a lighter sentence.
  • Ensure rape victims/survivors get justice with new investigatory model for rape for police forces and prosecutors.
  • Carefully consider the recommendations of Baroness Bertin’s Independent Review of Porn, protecting against harmful impacts of the industry.
  • Require perpetrators of serious sexual offences the whole of their sentences in prison.
  • Bring mandatory reporting provisions of the Criminal Justice Bill into force.
  • Introduce a redress scheme for CSA victims/survivors in institutional settings.
  • Ensure sex offenders cannot change their name or conceal their identity.

 

Green Party Manifesto

  • A specific section on VAWG is on page 40.
  • On page 39 there is a direct declaration of ending VAWG, making it priority for the party.
  • Greater support for Domestic Abuse Units in the Police.
  • Make misogyny a hate crime.
  • Increase police capacity to deal with Domestic Abuse.
  • Develop a new strategy to tackle GBV.
  • Ensure GBV and Domestic Abuse is a key policing priority.
  • Fund local authorities to tackle GBV at local level.
  • Decriminalise Sex Work.
  • Public health approach to violence.

 

Labour Party Manifesto

  • A specific section on tackling VAWG is on page 67.
  • Tough new penalties on offenders.
  • Specialist rape unit / rape and sexual offence teams in every police force.
  • Half levels of VAWG within a decade.
  • Reform the justice system to put victims/survivors first.
  • Address the root cause of abuse and violence.
  • Prolific sexual offenders will be treated in same way as terrorists and serious organised crime.
  • Rape cases will be fast-tracked, with specialist courts at every Crown Court location in England and Wales.
  • Domestic Abuse experts will be introduced in 999 control rooms so that victims/survivors can talk directly to a specialist.
  • Schools will address misogyny, and teach young people about healthy relationships and consent.
  • Stalking Protection Orders powers will be increased and give women the right to know the identity of online stalkers.
  • A new criminal offence for spiking to help police better respond to this crime will be introduced.
  • The rights and protections available to women in co-habiting couples will be strengthened.
  • The rights and protections for whistleblowers in the workplace, including on sexual harassment will be strengthened.
  • His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue Services will get new powers to intervene with failing forces.
  • Anyone with a history of VAWG will be barred from the Police, Fire & Rescue services and automatic suspensions will be introduced if officers are investigated for domestic abuse and sexual offences.
  • Ensure more prosecutors are available by allowing Associate Prosecutors to work on appropriate cases.
  • The powers of the Victims’ Commissioner will be increased.
  • Action will be taken to reduce re-offending.

 

Liberal Democrat Manifesto

  • Crime and Policing is specifically focused on Page 55.
  • Proper community policing will be restored where officers are visible, trusted and focused on preventing and solving crimes – especially rape and other violent crime.
  • The criminal justice system to tackle the backlog of court cases and ensure swift justice.
  • Breaking the cycle of re-offending by improving rehabilitation in prisons and on release, and strengthening the supervision of offenders in the community.
  • Ensuring victim/survivors of VAWG are properly supported in the criminal justice process, including through mandatory training for police and prosecutors in understanding the impact of trauma on survivors.
  • A new Online Crime Agency will be created to effectively tackle illegal content and activity online, such as personal fraud, revenge porn and threats and incitement to violence on social media.
  • The National Crime Agency will be properly resourced to combat serious and organised crime.
  • encouraging other police forces to implement appropriate recommendations of the Casey Review.
  • Embedding domestic abuse specialists in every police force and 999 operator assistance centre to ensure that reports from victims/survivors are handled effectively and sensitively.
  • Addressing the delays in domestic abuse referrals from the police to the CPS and subsequent decision making by the CPS, acknowledging the unique risk these delays can pose to women’s safety.
  • Make misogyny a hate crime and give police and prosecutors the resources and training they need to prevent and prosecute all hate crimes while supporting victims/survivors.
  • Ensure that victims/survivors of VAWG and domestic abuse get the support they deserve.
  • Fully implementing the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating VAWG and domestic violence, with protections for all victims/survivors regardless of nationality or immigration status.
  • Expanding the number of refuges and rape crisis centres to meet demand.
  • Ensuring sustainable funding for services to support survivors of domestic abuse, with a particular focus on community-based and specialist ‘by and for’ services.
  • Ensuring that victims/survivors of domestic abuse are properly supported within the criminal justice system.

 

Reform UK Manifesto (late entry added 17.06.24 upon publication)

  • None of the phrases are used in the Reform UK Manifesto
  • Justice is specifically focused on Page 11.
  • Commitment is made to stopping child grooming gangs.

 

On the 4th July, you get to put an X in a box and make a choice of who you want to be in Parliament. We encourage every single male survivor to go to the voting booth; we encourage every single male survivor to continue to ask their MP (once elected) to adopt our MANifesto asks; and we encourage every male survivor to have their voice heard.

Whoever the individuals are that take a seat in the House of Commons; whichever party or collection of parties become the next Government; and whoever it is that becomes our next Prime Minister, we must ensure that male victims/survivors of sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation are not left out in the cold.

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