Shame is stop­ping women re­port­ing do­mes­tic abuse

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

FEEL­INGS OF shame and hu­mil­i­a­tion are pre­vent­ing women in the Jewish com­mu­nity from re­port­ing do­mes­tic abuse, ac­cord­ing to Naomi Dick­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Jewish Women’s Aid.

Speak­ing dur­ing a de­bate at the House of Com­mons, hosted by JWA and the Board of Deputies, Ms Dick­son said: “There is noth­ing in Jewish re­li­gious text that con­dones do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Yet there is a shame and lack of ac­cess to ser­vices for women in our com­mu­nity which stops them com­ing for­ward.”

The de­bate, held on In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day on Wed­nes­day, fo­cused on whether faith com­mu­ni­ties help or hin­der do­mes­tic abuse vic­tims.

Jane Gar­vey, pre­sen­ter of BBC Ra­dio 4’s Woman’s Hour, hosted the dis­cus­sion, with speak­ers in­clud­ing Ali­son Saun­ders, Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, Shaista Go­hir, chair of the Mus­lim Women’s Net­work, and Eilidh White­ford, SNP MP for Banff and Buchan.

Ms Go­hir said: “All the is­sues that stop Jewish women re­port­ing vi­o­lence are the same for the Mus­lim com­mu­nity. “I think it’s im­por­tant our com­mu­ni­ties work to­gether on th­ese is­sues be­cause peo­ple do try to use faith to dis­em­power women.”

Ms Saun­ders told the panel the CPS had worked “hard with re­li­gious lead­ers to un­der­stand the chal­lenges” vic­tims in faith com­mu­ni­ties ex­pe­ri­ence. She said while the num­ber of pros­e­cu­tions for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence had in­creased, “prose­cu­tors need to think about the com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple come from and the is­sues they face.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t want to be hu­mil­i­ated and they worry re­port­ing vi­o­lence will make it worse. “We think com­mu­nity sup­port is vi­tal in se­cur­ing the right re­sult.” Ms White­ford added: “When a faith com­mu­nity fails to sup­port its vic­tims they be­come isolated. It can re­sult in a spir­i­tual cri­sis for the vic­tim, be­cause faith is such an in­te­gral part of their iden­tity.”

PHOTO: PA

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Ali­son Saun­ders

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