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Rape Crisis July 10, 2007

Posted by Winter in please do something, rape.

From The Guardian:

Up to half of Rape Crisis centres in England and Wales are facing closure within the next year because of severe funding problems, charities said today.

Thousands of the estimated 80,000 women who suffer rape or attempted rape every year will be left without vital support if more centres close their doors, campaigners warn, in a crisis partly caused by government failure to provide consistent support.

One Rape Crisis centre manager expecting to close her facility, in High Wycombe, within days said women looking for long-term counselling and support would turn instead to doctors for antidepressants or end up within the mental health system.

Rape Crisis’s prediction that as many as half of its 32 centres in England and Wales will either close or drastically cut back their services this year comes as a powerful coalition of charities blamed the problem on “government failures” to deliver on promises of stable funding for voluntary organisations.

“It is a scandal that funding for suriviors of sexual crimes is so piecemeal and unsustained. It seems that the lives of survivors are not important to national government.”

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations is taking up the case and recommends that people write to their local MP or MPs as a matter of urgency:

ask them to put pressure on the relevant Ministers (mainly Maria Eagle) and use whatever contacts they have in Parliament. Please let us know if any MPs are particularly supportive and we may be able to use them a bit more, for example to put down an Early Day Motion (a kind of petition in the House of Commons) or to suggest a debate in Parliament.

Another useful thing that some of you may already have done, is to write to the letters page of your local and regional paper (and why notNational too). The letters page is one of the most read pages in anewspaper and your issue is interesting, outrageous and newsworthy soit’s worth a go. Remember to be succinct and to the point and yourletter is more likely to be printed.

So get writing.

But it’s also important to be aware that (as is always the case with funding cuts) there’s a political background, in this case the cuts seems to be taking place in the context of an attempt to increase government services.

Louise from rape crisis:

The government is putting large amounts of money into Sexual AssaultReferral Centres (SARCs) which are essentially police/health centres -in the best ones there is a high level of involvement with the voluntary sector. Whilst they may provide better services, they are centralising services so in the West Midlands women from Coventry have to travel to Walsall.

They are only used by women who want to contact statutory services which is about 10-20% of the women that we see. SARCs are essentially to impact on the low conviction rates and to improve women’s experience of the criminal justice system. We would support these goals if there were seen to be part of the needs of women who have experienced sexual violence rather than being the main focus for services. Locally some centres are experiencing difficulties because agencieshaving invested large amounts of money into SARCs think that (a) they have now covered sexual violence and (b) all women should use the SARC services.

Mind the Gap supports the establishment of SARCs precisely because they do centralise services in an aim to improve conviction rates and women’s (often incredibly traumatic experiences) within the criminal justice system. This is essential work.

However, and it’s a big however, these services should not come at the expense of local rape crisis services. If the needs of women who have experienced rape and abuse were the main focus, surely there would be plenty of funding available for a range of joined up services catering to different needs. Statutory services are not always appropriate and women should have the right to make use of alternatives. Moreover, if victims’ experiences were truly being valued, the government would be working hard to make sure that access to a range of services is widely available and that means increased funding to different kinds of agencies. The waiting list for counselling at our local SARC, for example, is 9 months! We don’t have a rape crisis centre in the area. It closed due to lack of funding.

So, tell your MPs that cutting funding to rape crisis centres sends a nasty message to the public about which issues are truly being valued and that you want more funding for more services both voluntary and statutory.

Rape Crisis



1. Anna - July 10, 2007

The best of intentions can often be a case of solving one problem only to inadvertently create another. It’s a shame.

2. bookblob - July 13, 2007

Very interesting post.
When I went to the Rape Crisis website to see about volunteering I kept thinking I couldn’t find the page where they were all listed. Eventually I realised there are so few of them that there wasn’t one anywhere near me and I gave up.

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