Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice
I made a written statement in March this year about the tragic killing of Sarah Everard. I am saddened to be issuing another statement today in relation to the safety of women on our streets and another life tragically lost; that of Sabina Nessa.
The news today carries headlines of a man charged with Sabina’s murder. While it is too early to comment on the particulars of the criminal investigation, one thing is clear; Sabina is no longer here.
Sabina was on her way to meet a friend. She was walking in a public place. It was the early evening. Whilst we don’t know yet what happened, what we do know is that, regardless of where she was going, what she was doing or the time of day, Sabina should have been safe.
Violence against women and girls is far too common. Harassment, abuse and violence are daily occurrences for women and have conditioned their lives for far too long. We must unite to end violence on our streets, we must unite for change and we must unite to allow everyone to live fear free.
Welsh Government has always been clear about its ambition to end violence against women and girls. Violence against women and girls is a societal problem which requires a societal response. We must challenge attitudes and change behaviours of those who behave abusively. It is not for women to modify their behaviour, it is for abusers to change theirs.
That is why the Welsh Government Programme for Government commits to strengthening the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Strategy to include a focus on violence against women in the street and workplace as well as the home in order to make Wales the safest place in Europe to be a woman.
The Welsh Government is currently developing its next five-year VAWDASV National Strategy alongside a group of key partner organisations including the police and specialist sector. A public consultation on a draft Strategy will take place later this year.
An important part of this work is a recognition that VAWDASV disproportionately impacts Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women, LGBTQ+ people and disabled people.
Through our Live Fear Free campaigns we will continue to raise awareness of stalking, harassment, abuse and violence against women in all aspects of life including the street and other public places. These campaigns provide practical advice for those who may be suffering abuse as well as highlighting the support available to enable friends, family and the wider community to recognise abuse and take safe action.
We will continue to work in partnership with specialist services to raise awareness of the inequality and safety issues faced by women and girls, and to end all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and will continue to work with Welsh police forces, Police and Crime Commissioners, public safety boards and the Crown Prosecution Service to instil confidence in victims to report incidents of abuse and violence when they occur and to hold those who abuse to account.
Wales will not be bystander to abuse.