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TUC backs fight to end domestic abuse

Women's conference unites to fight scourge of violence

Female trade unionists came out against domestic violence yesterday at the TUC women's conference.

On a day that started with a minute's silence honouring the death of longstanding former Labour MP Tony Benn, activists from across Britain passed a statement against the enduring blight of domestic abuse.

Darlington Councillor Linda Hughes argued that fighting against abuse at home would show the labour movement's support for the new Domestic Violence (Legal Framework) Bill being proposed by Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd.

The Bill is set to have its second reading in the House of Commons on June 6. It would reform legislation to include psychological abuse and excessively controlling behaviour as criminal acts.

The motion came after recent figures show that in Britain alone one in four women will experience domestic violence.

A POA member recounted the horrors of domestic violence survivors who become offenders.

Of these, 10 per cent have to go under suicide watch due to the traumatic repercussions of their assaults.

"It's time to stand up, speak out and stop domestic violence," conference heard.

The conference unanimously voted on prioritising the making of workplace policies addressing victim's support.

Activists also conferred on the role of trade unions in the battle against female genital mutilation.

Several campaigning groups have been arguing recently for new and tougher legislation on the practice.

However, some activists have argued that the approach taken can lead to the propagation of stereotypes and potentially promote prejudice against certain communities.

UCU women's committee member Elane Heffernan received a standing applause from parts of the conference when she said "campaigning against genital mutilation has got to be about child abuse, not racism."

Sarah Veale, TUC head of equality and employment rights, said she was "very pleased" with this year's conference, adding that there had been "lots of very exciting debates on very topical issues."

There were "some stirring speeches," she added after the domestic violence motion was passed.

"The message to unions is to go on recruiting and encourage women to become activists."

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