London, 9 December 2010: Today, on the eve of Human Rights Day, families who have lost loved-ones to domestic violence joined Avon Cosmetics UK, Refuge and Sheryl Gascoigne to hand in a petition to the government at number 10 Downing Street.  The petition calls on the government and local authorities to preserve specialist domestic violence services to stop the growing death toll. The families held a wreath of 102 roses to commemorate each of the women who were killed last year as a result of domestic violence.

Refuge Avon Four Ways to Speak Out Against Domestic Violence petition

Refuge and Avon Four Ways to Speak Out Against Domestic Violence petition

The petition seeks to protect specialist domestic violence services for women and children and forms part of the Avon and Refuge Four Ways to Speak Out campaign.  Since its launch one year ago, the petition has been signed by over 8,000 people including Reese Witherspoon, Avon’s Global Ambassador.

There has been an increase in the domestic violence homicide rate over the past financial year.  The most recent and shocking figures show the number of women killed by a violent partner jumped from 72 in 2007-2008[1] to 102 in 2008-2009[2] – an increase of 42 per cent. The government spending review announced in October this year is putting pressure on local authorities to re-evaluate their budgets meaning that vital specialist support services may be at risk.   Reducing specialist domestic violence services would have serious consequences; leaving women with fewer options to turn to, limited access to support and potentially forcing them to stay with or return to their perpetrator, thereby increasing the risk of death.

Statistics reveal the shocking truth about domestic violence in the UK:

  • Up to two women are killed by a violent partner every week[3]
  • More than one in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives[4]
  • Nearly 30 women attempt suicide to escape domestic violence every day[5]
  • Currently one in three local authorities provides no refuge or specialist support for women[6]

Sandra Horley, OBE, Chief Executive of Refuge:

“Every woman has a basic human right to live free from violence and fear.  And today, on the eve of Human Rights Day, Refuge, together with Avon and the families of domestic violence homicide victims, are sending a strong message:  now, more than ever, we need to protect specialist services across the country to prevent more deaths. We need to speak out for the dead to protect the living.’’

Anna Segatti, President of Avon UK, says:

“As the company for women, we are committed to improving women’s lives by addressing the issue of domestic violence. By working with Refuge, Avon can help protect specialist services so that abused women and children can live in safety.  Together we can make a difference.”

Manuel Fernandez, whose sister Maria Stubbings was killed by her ex-partner in December 2008, and Celia Peachey, Maria’s daughter said:

“The wreath that we carried today commemorates the 102 women who lost their lives to domestic violence between 2008 and 2009.  It sickens us to think so many women have paid such a high price and have endured such horrific abuse. We are here together not only to speak out for Maria but also on behalf of the other 101 women who lost their lives.  Our only hope is that Avon and Refuge’s Speak Out campaign prevents the futile loss of future lives to domestic violence.”

[1] Povey et al, 2009

[2] Smith et al, 2010

[3] Smith et al,  2010

[4] Roe, 2010

[5] Walby, 2004

[6] Coy et al, 2009