Boris Johnson needs proper violence against women strategy backed up by cash

SARAH Everard and Sabina Nessa never knew each other (although they lived just a few miles apart in south London) but their names are now bound together in the nation’s memory.

Two women, murdered on the streets of Britain. Again.

I feel exasperated. Tired. And angry.

I am long in the tooth, and have spent 20 years in jobs tackling violence against women – first at the charity Women’s Aid and now as a Labour MP and shadow minister. I am weary that nothing has changed.

Between Sarah’s brutal murder and Sabina’s just over six months later, some 78 women have been killed by men in Britain. That is 12 lives every month cruelly snatched.

Violence against women is the pandemic which dare not speak its name.

If we are to end it, the police and government must get tough and treat violence against women with the same force – and funding – as terrorism.

Boris Johnson, and others before him, have failed.

He announced a pot of money for street lights after Sarah’s murder. OK – it is important more is done to make women feel safe as they walk home at night. But many councils have cut their street lighting budgets in recent years.

We don’t need little pots of money here and there, or pilot schemes which sink without trace.

The answer is out there. We need a proper violence against women strategy backed up by real cash.

Nationally, violence against women should be classified a ‘serious crime’ – like terrorism or drug county lines. This would mean police forces locally would spend more time and resources tracking down perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Our brave police have an excellent record in monitoring terrorists and stopping them from striking. We need to bring that rigour and know-how to track down and arrest men who rape women, beat up their girlfriends, and pounce on strangers in the street.

Every year, on International Women’s Day, I stand up in Parliament and read the names of every woman murdered in Britain over the past 12 months.

It is a grim toll. But also an enraging one.

These women usually knew their killer. They usually had spoken to the police or authorities in the past. But they were still killed.

Our rape stats are appalling. Just 1% of rape allegations lead to a conviction. And women are often forced to wait years for their case to come to court.

I had a 19 year-old woman come into my office the other day. She is hoping for a trial in November – of a man she says raped her when she was 15. The abuse started when she was 10.

I was sat in front of this girl who had been abused, was living in temporary accommodation, and waiting four years to even get a chance at justice.

That is not right and must be changed.

Boris Johnson should be worried about violence against women and girls every single day. He needs to personally take it in hand because the Home Office is failing.

Until he does, half the people in this country will never be properly safe.

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