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Labour commits to tackle domestic violence ‘epidemic’

LABOUR is vowing to stamp out the domestic violence "epidemic" in Britain by pledging to give victims 10 days paid leave to help them escape.

Shadow secretary for women and equalities Dawn Butler highlighted latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures that show that two women on average are killed weekly by a current or former partner.

She plans to use  Labour's women's conference tomorrow to call for new rules that require employers to have a domestic abuse policy and provide up to 10 days paid leave for victims. New Zealand has already passed similar legislation, while Australia and certain provinces in Canada provide five days paid leave.

Ms Butler will say: "This crucial time will allow women to leave their abusive partners safely, get the help, protection and support they need, knowing their livelihood is secure.

"These 10 days could literally help save the lives of those women."

In the year to March 2017, around 1.2 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Ms Butler has slammed the government for letting down survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence by cutting vital funding to local council budgets — “a lifeline to the most vulnerable women in their hour of need.”

She plans to tell the conference: "Local authorities need sustainable, long-term funding to ensure that refuges can continue to provide a vital service.  Labour will establish a national oversight mechanism to set quality standards for refuge provision and support."

A Women's Aid survey recently revealed that almost a fifth of specialist women’s refuges have been forced to close under the Tory government.

Due to a lack of available space, 60 per cent of all referrals to refuges were declined in 2016-2017.

The report also revealed that 95 per cent of refuge managers had turned women away in the last six months because they had physical impairments, complex mental health needs, too many children with them or due to a lack of beds.

Ms Butler will also say: "We want to live in a society where no-one is held back but we know stubborn inequalities are damaging the lives of so many of our fellow citizens and stopping us all from reaching our full potential as a society.

"We can’t carry on just tinkering around the edges, with equality an afterthought or little more than a question of political presentation, not a priority for the Tories.

"So far we have seen seven different ministers for equality tagged onto four different departments and a budget that's nearly been halved. This proves the Tories are not taking equalities seriously.”

Ms Butler will also lay out plans for the Labour’s new department for women and equalities, “putting equality centre stage."

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