11 January 2010
Save rape crisis centres
Rape crisis centres offer support to women after they have been raped. The World Health Organization says that one in four women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The UK has the lowest rape conviction rate in Europe.
A decade ago, the UK had nearly 80 rape crisis centres, but now there are only 39 still operating and offering specialist support services to women who have survived sexual violence.
Here’s a quote from a woman who was raped, taken from a Guardian article about the struggle of the UK rape crisis centres to stay open:
"It's difficult to describe what [rape] does to you… For months afterwards, I couldn't sleep at night. I'd wake up in cold sweats because I was worried they would be breaking into my house after I'd reported it to the police. When my case didn't go to court I felt angry at the whole system, at the police who I didn't feel believed me. When I finally found help from the women here, it changed everything."
In London, there is only one remaining rape crisis centre. The North London Fawcett Group has been backing the campaign to save it. They launched the ‘Boris Keep Your Promise’ campaign to put pressure on the Boris Johnston, the mayor of London. In the run-up to his election, Boris promised to cut 20 per cent from City Hall's PR budget and give the resulting £744,000-a-year to Rape Crisis for at least four years. He said he would open three new centres and lobby the government for extra central funding.
A year later, Boris admitted that this money didn’t exist in his budget. However, he announced last week – at the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee – that he is to double the provision of rape crisis centres in the capital, with the opening of the first new centre in a decade.
There’s a petition to central government demanding it provides long-term sustainable funding to independent rape crisis centres. Sign it here.