I shall say more about that shortly.
The concept that acts of violence are justifiable if they will protect the family’s “honour” is ridiculous and unacceptable.
Furthermore, many women and young girls from an ethnic minority continue to suffer because they feel that there is no way out. There is evidence that, on average, women suffer acts of violence and abuse more than 20 times before they report it, but among women from an ethnic minority the number is higher—and that, of course, assumes that the acts are ever reported. The under-reporting of such acts is another serious issue which increases the complexity of the situation in which those women find themselves.
The funding of services for women who are victims of violence has been dramatically reduced. According to a report published by Women’s Aid, 27,900 women have been refused refuge because of a lack of vacancies, and the cutting of support for such groups will cause further problems.
I am also concerned by the cuts that are being made in my local police force. There will no longer be front-desk police officers 24 hours a day in my local police station in Southall. Those cuts could prove life-threatening when combined with the decreased funding for other services that help women who are victims of violence.
Let me end my speech by thanking Southall Black Sisters, who are based in my constituency. They have contributed positively to the community for more than 30 years, providing excellent services which help women from black and ethnic-minority backgrounds. Many people will know them for their work on the Kiranjit Ahluwalia case, which ultimately focused on issues that I mentioned earlier: issues which need to be resolved, and which lie deep within communities. Southall Black Sisters have provided valuable services, but, owing to their limited resources, they can only take on the most extreme cases, and there are still many more women who need assistance.
The matters that are being discussed today are of great urgency, and I hope that the Minister will resolve to work on a global basis with other Government agencies and non-governmental organisations to eradicate the fear of violence from women throughout the world.