Background to the Map of Gaps report

Background to the Map of Gaps report

It is unacceptable that in 2009 many women in Britain still have no specialised support and that others must travel long distances to find it. We are calling on local and national governments to work together to make sure all women in all parts of Britain have equal access to specialised support services - helplines, rape crisis centres, refuges and domestic violence outreach projects.

In 2007, the inaugural Map of Gaps report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Violence Against Women Campaign (EVAW) documented for the first time the uneven distribution of specialised violence against women (VAW) services in Britain, such as Rape Crisis Centres and refuges.

The findings were alarming:

  • over one-third of local authorities had no specialised service provision at all
  • only a minority had a diversity of services across a range of forms of violence which provide routes to safety, information and support and help rebuild lives.

In January 2009, the research was repeated. We wanted to see if the picture of support has changed for the millions women who are forced to deal with the legacies of violence. What it shows is a stark picture of the many places that have few or no support services for women who have suffered violence. It is clear from this research that there is a crisis in the funding and provision of specialised services that support women who have suffered violence.

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Funding for support services

Under a number of international agreements, the UK Government is required to make sure that women have access to services that provide routes to protection, justice, medical treatment and any other provisions that will help them regain security and human dignity.

Map of Gaps shows that in some areas of Great Britain, the Government is not meeting these requirements and many women are suffering violence without any means of support just because of where they live.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and End Violence Against Women campaign call on national and local governments to take urgent action to ensure that all women have access to the support they need, where and when they need and seek it:

  • National governments in Britain must, as an urgent priority, implement a national funding strategy to secure existing specialised violence against women services and help fill the gaps.
  • Local authorities and other public bodies must ensure that there is dedicated funding for independent, specialised, women-only services to support women who are the victims of violence.
  • The Commission has the power to take legal action against those local authorities that breach their obligations under Gender Equality Duty by failing to adequately consider the need to prioritise women's support services.

A duty on the public sector to promote gender equality was introduced across Britain in 2007 following similar duties in relation to race and disability in 2002 and 2006. This means that all public bodies, including Local Authorities, should be assessing the needs of women and men and taking action to meet these needs.

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