New Clause 15 - Children as victims of domestic abuse

Part of Domestic Abuse Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 6th July 2020.

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Photo of Ruth Jones Ruth Jones Labour, Newport West 8:30 pm, 6th July 2020

I am grateful to be able to take part in this debate and say a few words on behalf of the many people in Newport West who have written to me about the Bill in recent days.

It is important for us all to acknowledge that domestic abuse is a serious and widespread issue that primarily affects women and children. There are 2.4 million victims each year, and in England and Wales two women a week are killed by a partner or former partner. From representations made to me by constituents in Newport West, including Rob, I know that men are also victims of domestic abuse and need and deserve our support too.

The Government’s own figures state that domestic abuse costs taxpayers in Newport West and throughout the UK £66 billion a year. The wonderful charity Women’s Aid, to which I pay tribute for its work and campaigning, estimates that £393 million is needed for domestic abuse services annually. When winding up the debate, I hope the Minister will reassure my constituents that the domestic abuse sector will get the adequate long-term funding required by diverse specialist services. That funding must be allocated now.

I want us to protect the mother, the father and the children in Newport West. I want us to protect the migrant woman who has sought peace and safety in the UK. I want our laws to be a leading example on the world stage. As with the response to covid-19, for us to tackle domestic violence and abuse and show its perpetrators that they will no longer get away with their actions, there must be a co-ordinated, cross-Government response. To be truly transformative, this legislation must deliver the changes survivors urgently need in housing, healthcare, the immigration system, welfare reform and the family courts.

In drawing my remarks and this debate to a close, I pay tribute to the many brilliant women and men on the Labour Benches who have championed this piece of legislation and shown compassion and leadership on these issues. I think of my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips), for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) and for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield), my right hon. Friend Ms Abbott, and others who have now left the House: Paula Sherriff, Vernon Coaker and Ruth George. I also pay tribute to my constituency neighbour and honorary sister, my hon. Friend Nick Thomas-Symonds, for all his efforts in bringing the Bill back to this House. However, my final tribute goes to Rachel Williams from my constituency, who endured domestic abuse from her husband for many years. He finally took a shotgun to the hairdressing salon where she was working and shot her twice. Fortunately, Rachel survived and now campaigns to help other victims. She is the epitome of a strong survivor.

One in four women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Two women a week are killed at the hands of their partner or ex-partner. Three women a week die by suicide as a result of the abuse they have experienced. Two million people experience domestic abuse in England and Wales every year. I make no apology for restating those shocking statistics, but let them remind us all why we are here. With a strong Domestic Abuse Bill, strengthened on Report, we will be able to prove that inaction, apathy and ignorance will finally come to an end once and for all.