Labour MP hopes to be first minister tasked to prevent domestic violence

Purna Sen and Seema Malhotra were joined on the factfinding visit by Gail Gray, chief executive of RISE, the Brighton-based domestic violence charity
Purna Sen and Seema Malhotra were joined on the factfinding visit by Gail Gray, chief executive of RISE, the Brighton-based domestic violence charity

Labour names a shadow minister with responsibility to prevent violence against women.

The Labour Party is announcing today a new shadow ministerial post with responsibility to prevent violence against women.

Purna Sen and Seema Malhotra read how Brighton and Hove Independent highlighted the Fear-free Football campaign

Purna Sen and Seema Malhotra read how Brighton and Hove Independent highlighted the Fear-free Football campaign

Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston, has been appointed the first person to hold the post.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, says the appointment is "another indication of the importance a Labour government will place on tackling violence against women and girls”.

Today's announcement comes only days after Ms Malhotra made a private visit to Brighton to learn more about RISE, the local violence support service for women experiencing violence and their children.

She was accompanied by Purna Sen, the Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, who is a leading expert on the subject.

Ms Sen, a RISE trustee, recently championed the successful Fear-free Football campaign aimed at highlighting the risk of male violence against women during the recent World Cup.

During the visit on Thursday, the two Labour politicians heard first-hand accounts of trauma, pain and the failure of the criminal justice system to provide adequate safety and protection for women and their children. Some of RISE's service-users told of being let down by the courts and of being failed by the police in their efforts to remain safe and to get help.

Women who had lost their homes, had their bones broken, or been emotionally scarred spoke with sadness and hope for change.

RISE staff told the new shadow minister that they often had to substitute for the justice system professionals in making sure that the right people were briefed - and that the right papers were in the right place at the right time. Prejudicial opinions among magistrates and judges also caused great concern, they said.

Ms Malhotra said: “The level of violence against women in Britain and indeed the world is shocking and too little is being done to prevent these crimes, support the victims, and bring the perpetrators to justice. I will be looking to change this.”

Ms Sen said: “I offer my profound gratitude to the immensely-strong women who came to share their stories. They told us that they wanted their trauma to be useful in preventing the same happening to other women and their children.

"Though I have been working against violence against women for over 20 years - in war, in peace, in the UK and abroad - I am moved and angered every time I hear that women have been failed and my resolve to continue fighting this scourge is strengthened. I thank Seema for coming to Brighton for her first listening exercise in her new role.“

RISE_LogoViolence against women continues to harm great numbers of women in this country - and in Brighton and Hove.

It is estimated that in the UK last year 85,000 women were raped and that there were 12.9 million incidents of domestic violence against women (compared with 2.5 million against men).

In Brighton and Hove, more than 200 women experience domestic violence each week and the estimated annual cost of such violence to Brighton and Hove comes to over £30m.

For support to tackle domestic abuse, call RISE on 01273 622 822; if you are in danger call 999. For more information, visit: www.riseuk.org.uk