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Suffolk MPs help ‘lifesaving’ domestic violence bill pass final reading in House of Commons

PUBLISHED: 16:29 24 February 2017

Campaigners from IC Change; SNP politician Gavin Newlands is in the centre, with Ipswich supporter Helen Taylor standing to his left. Picture: KE Januszek Photography

Campaigners from IC Change; SNP politician Gavin Newlands is in the centre, with Ipswich supporter Helen Taylor standing to his left. Picture: KE Januszek Photography

Archant

“I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important this is to Suffolk.”

These were the words of one activist from Ipswich after a treaty that promises to tackle domestic abuse against women and girls passed its final reading in the House of Commons today with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to one against.

Among those who supported the Istanbul Convention (IC) bill were Suffolk ministers Ben Gummer, Therese Coffey and James Cartlidge.

Helen Taylor, who is from Ipswich and is part of national campaign group IC Change, said she was delighted the “vital, lifesaving” act made it to the next stage of debate.

She added: “I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important this is to Suffolk.

“I’ll keep telling anyone who will listen that we have higher than average domestic abuse statistics here, with one in three women at risk rather than the one in four around the rest of the country.

“I will continue to urge constituents and women’s organisations to carry on raising awareness and securing support. This has to be a priority to our Government and we all have a voice.”

The bill will now go to the House of Lords and if it is approved it will require the Government to ratify the IC and legally commit the state to providing enough funding for shelters, support centres, helplines, education in schools on healthy relationships and training for professionals.

Jane Basham, director of Suffolk Rape Crisis, said: “We know from our front line work that so many women and girls still don’t have access to the services they need; that victim blaming and fear of not being believed prevents reporting and that the criminal justice system seems to conspire to allow perpetrators to walk free.

“This bill will provide a much needed structure to start to address these issues.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer wrote on Twitter he was “proud” to vote to help ratify the IC, which he named an “important landmark” that would boost Government accountability on future violence against women and girls progress.

The treaty is the first legal framework focussed on preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and prosecuting perpetrators.

The only MP to vote against the bill was Philip Davies, who spoke for 93 minutes trying to derail it.

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