News | Press Release | Statements

30 May 2024

Refuge launches 2024 General Election Manifesto and an anonymous voting guide for survivors of domestic abuse.

Ahead of the General Election on the 4th of July, Refuge have launched their manifesto outlining the changes that the next Government need to make to eradicate domestic abuse and other forms of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). The manifesto has been launched alongside an anonymous voting guide, which empowers domestic abuse survivors to exercise their right to vote safely.
VAWG is an endemic issue in the UK, with an average of 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. Despite its prevalence, approaches to tackling VAWG has been disjointed and inadequate.
The rise in misogyny and reports of police perpetrated abuse means that action and an improved response to domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG is urgently needed. Refuge, the largest single provider of domestic abuse support in the country, are calling on the future Government to take a whole system approach to supporting survivors and tackling abuse by urging parties to adopt the following three actions:

  1. Improve the systems for survivors of domestic abuse
    It is essential that survivors of domestic abuse have access to the legal, civil and economic support they need to enable them to recover and rebuild their lives. But right now, many survivors of domestic abuse are unable to access that support.
    There needs to be improvements to the criminal justice system, reform to the family courts, improved access to housing, welfare reforms, and support for migrant survivors.
  2. Invest in specialist domestic abuse services.
    Domestic abuse services are a lifeline for survivors, providing holistic and specialist support on both a short- and long-term basis. Insufficient funding and short-term contracts, and the cost-of-living crisis have, however, left many of these at breaking point.
    There needs to be sustainable funding for specialist domestic abuse services, including £238 million per year for essential community-based services and £189 million per year for refuge services, as outlined by Women’s Aid in their Investing to Save report.
  3.  Make the country safer for women and girls.
    Women have a fundamental human right to live safely and free from violence, but in the UK, this is currently being compromised by the rise in misogyny, online, within our schools and in wider society and increased reports of abuse perpetrated by those in the police.
    Decisive action needs to be taken to ensure the safety of women and girls online, alongside the rooting out of police abusers from police ranks.
    It is imperative that the next Government, whoever they may be, take meaningful steps towards ending domestic abuse and wider VAWG by implementing the changes outlined in Refuge’s 2024 General Election Manifesto.

‘Your Vote Matters, Your Safety Too’
Refuge believes that everyone’s vote matters. It is crucial that survivors of domestic abuse have a voice in the governance of the country, like the wider public, but we recognise that is there are challenges in registering to vote for survivors who need to maintain their anonymity and protect confidential information.
To ensure that survivors of domestic abuse can feel empowered to vote safely, Refuge has developed a guide to voting anonymously, which highlights survivors’ rights and instructions on how to protect your identity while registering to vote.
It is important for survivors to feel empowered to vote to ensure that representatives who serve the best interests of those who have experienced abuse are in a position to implement necessary change. Download your guide to voting anonymously. 

Abigail Ampofo, Interim CEO of Refuge, said:
“While Refuge welcomes the fact that all the major political parties have outlined their commitments to eradicating violence against women and girls (VAWG), it is imperative that they also recognise the urgent work that need to be done to ensure that women and girls can live a life free from abuse and fear. Promises and policies need to be translated into meaningful action that supports and empowers all survivors of domestic abuse and wider VAWG.
Domestic abuse remains a widespread issue, affecting one in four women in the UK. As a society we must recognise the gravity of this crime and the devastating harm it causes to individuals, families, communities and even our economy, at large. A collective social response, in which policymakers, the criminal justice system, and government departments working with specialist organisations like Refuge and the wider public is essential to tackling domestic abuse.
More must be done to protect women and girls. Now is the time for change.”

Amara*, a survivor of domestic abuse, said:
“Through experiencing domestic abuse so many of my choices were taken from me. Where I could go, what I could do and who I could talk to weren’t things I was allowed to decide for myself. I’ve had to give up so much because of abuse but this shouldn’t include my right to vote. Now, more than ever, I need to be able to choose the world I’d like to live in.
The right for victims/survivors of domestic abuse to vote safely honours those that fought for us to have that right in the first place.”

Penelope*, a survivor of domestic abuse, said:
“As a victim of domestic abuse, so many of my rights have been forcibly taken away by my perpetrator. Neither myself, nor the many other survivors who are just like me, should lose the right to vote because it’s not safe to do so. The government has an obligation to protect us. We have a right to choose who will represent us and will deliver change to minimise the risks of domestic abuse for the next generation.”