Women’s Aid is feeling extremely fortunate. The chancellor has just announced that we will be sharing a fund of £2m to work with another domestic abuse charity, SafeLives, to improve early intervention in domestic abuse: something we have long argued is essential.
This work is being funded through the proceeds of the tax on sanitary products. There is good in this, but questions are inevitable and we are glad the government will continue to work to get rid of this tax.
However, we must take every opportunity to loudly and clearly affirm that women alone are not responsible for ending domestic violence.
The £2m fund is part of a £15m fund for charities working across the full range of women’s services. I hope this will be fantastic news for a sector that has seen disproportionate cuts, and more importantly for women, who have borne the brunt of austerity.
Women have been affected unfairly by public service cuts both as recipients of services and as employees of the public sector, so they certainly need the support this funding will provide. If we must live with the tampon tax for a bit longer, it’s great to spend it in this way.
Our early intervention project, set up with SafeLives, called Sooner the Better aims to create communities to bring down the barriers to disclosing abuse. It will make it possible for women to seek help, secure in the knowledge that they will be believed, supported and above all not blamed for the abuse they have experienced. And our initiative is only the start of what that £15m can achieve.
Today of all days, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must acknowledge that domestic abuse is the fault of the abuser alone, and that it is not up to women alone to end it – through a tax on their periods or by any other means. Today is the day when the public step up and accept that equality is about more than treating women kindly. It is about fundamental cultural and social change.
We will do our best to make sure our work funded by the tampon tax does just that. But let’s not forget that ending domestic abuse, and other manifestations of women’s inequality, is worth spending men’s income tax on.