The Violence Against Women bill still does not go far enough with regards to educating young people about behaviour and relationships.
Amendments on the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill are being voted on today in the National Assembly.
I have put forward amendments to strengthen the bill calling for:
• One fully-trained ‘go-to’ staff member in each school with expertise in Violence against Women and Girls and the knowledge and confidence to assist pupils in seeking assistance and information;
• A ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Champion’ amongst school governors and the student council (not in primary schools);
• Schools to regularly collect data on all forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual harassment and bullying;
• Five years after the Act receives Royal Assent, a report on the implementation of healthy relationships education must be produced by Welsh Ministers for the Assembly.
This bill is vitally important which is why we must get it right. I wholeheartedly support its aims, however warm words aren’t enough. Further changes must be made so that it can really make a difference.
We need to ensure that there are ‘Champions’ in place on school governing bodies and amongst teaching staff to drive forward teaching about healthy relationships and respect.
I also expect the Welsh Government to accept that we must have a better monitoring system in place to access whether we are making progress. We need regular reports on this issue and a system that ensures Estyn inspects on school responses to violence against women and girls.
It’s appalling that one woman is killed every 2.5 days in England and Wales through suspected male violence. We must do all that we can to put an end to this.
The Welsh Lib Dems want future generations to be educated about healthy relationships, so they know that violence is completely unacceptable. As a society, we need to be doing all we can to support people to improve their behaviour and relationships, therefore breaking the vicious cycle of domestic abuse.