The Welsh Liberal Democrats Equalities Spokesperson, Peter Black has voiced his disappointment that the Welsh Labour Government are not going far enough to support women who suffer from violence and domestic abuse in the Bill introduced in plenary today: Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill.
The Local Government Minister has confirmed that the Bill will focus on prevention, protection of victims and support for those affected. The Bill aims to reduce the incidents of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence and improve the public sector response.
However, Mr. Black questioned why the Bill fails to address issues such as education and perpetrator programmes, effectively repeats strategies and protocols that already exist, and does not recognise that the vast majority of domestic violence is against women.
"Whilst I support the aim of this legislation, I believe it is essential that it has teeth," said Mr. Black. I am concerned that this Bill does not reflect the day-to-day reality faced by many women. Nor does it do anything that Ministers are not already doing and clearly have the power to do now.
"I am disappointed that the Bill does not include education, the most important way of ensuring future generations know that violence against women is unacceptable. Those outside of school need to be educated as well as those within the mainstream curriculum.This is not just a curriculum issue but also one of legislating for champions in education settings that can take this issue forward.
"I am also concerned that there is no mention of the work that needs to be done with perpetrators. The Welsh Government are ignoring their own research - Building effective responses: An independent review of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence services in Wales. Rehabilitating perpetrators is essential if we are to reduce Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence.
"The Welsh Government already has the power necessary to produce strategies, in fact it already has a decent strategy - The Right to be Safe. The Welsh Government can appoint a Ministerial Advisor now if it wants. The Minister for Local Government has not created the comprehensive Bill that is needed and which covers the full range of issues and services associated with gender-based violence. As it stands currently, the Bill poses the question as to we are legislating at all?"