Thursday, 7 May 2009

Rape crisis crisis

"Victims are not normally strong enough to tie themselves to the railings outside Downing Street, shouting 'this has happened and I don't have any help'. Survivors of sexual abuse don't want people to know what happened to them. They won't be marching to Whitehall."

 — Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of the south London branch of Rape Crisis

Back when he was campaigning to become Mayor of London, one of Boris Johnson's campaign promises was to increase funding for rape crisis centres in London. At that time, there was only one such centre in London - woefully inadequate for a city of more than seven million. Johnson stated his intention to provide £744 000 to set up an additional four centres.

Unfortunately, once elected, he proceeded to renege on his promise, and in fact provided no funding at all. As a result, the single centre is now facing closure.

To give you an idea of the disastrous impact this will have, in 2008, the centre helped some 320 women who had been raped. In the year 2003/04, the total number of rapes recorded by police in England and Wales was 13 354. [1] A back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the fact that London contains one seventh of the population of England and Wales yields about 1700 rapes per year in London.

And the one rape crisis centre that's trying to deal with this all is closing, thanks to Boris Johnson's complete lack of interest. Not that he's alone - thanks to funding cuts lack of enthusiasm from all corners, the number of centres has massively decreased in the last two decades. Instead, the government makes up its own domestic/sexual violence policies without bothering to consult anyone who knows anything about the topic.

What can you do about it?

I'm also contacting some other people who have written about this topic, and will do a followup post on what I learn.


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