On 18th May 2021 the Bishop of Gloucester took part in the fourth day of debate in the House of Lords on the Queen’s Speech. She focused on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, and online safety:
My Lords, I too look forward to the maiden speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Fullbrook and Lady Fleet. In my few minutes, I shall briefly mention women in the criminal justice system, the Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, violence against women and girls and the online safety Bill. I refer to my interests in the register, as Anglican bishop to prisons.
I begin by asking: when will we see a renewed timetable for the 2018 female offender strategy? While I welcome the implementation of some of the deliverables, analysis by the Prison Reform Trust shows that the Government have met less than half the commitments. The concordat published last year does not appear to have been progressed. Then there was that shocking announcement of 500 new prison places for women, totally at odds with the strategy’s direction to reduce the number of women in prison. What evidence is it based on, and why is the designated £150 million not being spent on women’s centres and implementing the concordat?
Continue reading “Queen’s Speech – Bishop of Gloucester on criminal justice, violence against women and girls, online safety”
On 25th June, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, asked the Government an Oral Question on their plans to work with faith communities to address violence against women. She then asked a follow-up question about the Domestic Abuse Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to work with faith communities to address violence against women.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Minister of State, Home Office): My Lords, I welcome the important role that faith communities have played, and will continue to play, in tackling violence against women and girls in all its forms. Alongside our ongoing engagement with faith groups, Home Office officials are working on the next phase of the Government’s plan to end violence against women and girls. As part of our stakeholder engagement work, we will be reaching out to faith leaders and communities to seek their views.
Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester asks Government to address violence against women”
On 10th March 2020 Baroness Donaghy asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the financial sustainability of women’s refuges.” The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I return to the provision available after victims and their children are able to move on from refuges. Substantial, important and fragile ground has been moved and gained through the provisions in this Bill. But the provision after victims leave refuges is very patchy indeed, offered in only one in seven local authorities. Can the Minister say when provision will be available everywhere, for all victims and survivors? Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about provision for women and children leaving women’s refuges”
On 5th March 2020 Baroness Gale asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of the Crown Prosecution Service in prosecuting cases of rape.” The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, a recent study highlighted that only 25% of university students who had experienced rape went on to report it to their university or to the police. It is therefore of concern that, since 2016, 300 non-disclosure agreements have been issued by universities in response to student complaints, including assault and harassment reports. The Office for Students and Universities UK are working to improve the handling of harassment and misconduct by universities, but can the Minister advise the House when the Government plan to legislate against the misuse of NDAs by higher education institutions to ensure that students are not discouraged from reporting these assaults? Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester raises concern about response of universities to student complaints of assault and harassment”
On 9th January 2020 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled to Government on the treatment of British victims of alleged sexual violence in foreign countries, following the recent case in Cyprus. The bishop then asked a follow-up question:
Oral Question Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the treatment of British victims of alleged sexual violence in foreign countries, following the recent case in Cyprus.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon): My Lords, we take any report of rape or sexual assault seriously. Our staff explain local policing and legal procedures. We can attend the police station with and support victims and ensure that they can access medical care. We also work with specialist support organisations, such as our funded partners, and fund bespoke projects to improve the treatment of victims by authorities in other countries.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. The media reports of this young British woman convicted in Cyprus have caused alarm in many circles. What are Her Majesty’s Government doing to ensure that this does not deter victims in this country coming forward to the police when they need to report something? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about treatment of British victims of alleged sexual violence abroad”
On 16th July 2019 the Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford repeated a Government statement about domestic abuse. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I crave the forbearance of the House. I have two questions; one of my own and one from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who, due to the adjournment, has had to leave. My question relates to the needs of very vulnerable people, mainly women, on release from prison.
During my visits to our local women’s prison, I have learned that a higher proportion of women in prison than is the case in the general population come from violent and abusive relationships. It is critical that such women and other vulnerable people who have been abused are released into a safe, secure place with secure accommodation. Is the Minister aware that on occasion, due to things such as poor communication between the probation service in prison and the probation service outside prison, things go wrong and, tragically, a woman is released into danger.
Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle asks about vulnerable women released from prison”
On the 8th January 2019 Baroness Hodgson of Abinger hosted a debate about adolescent girls in conflict-affected countries. The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek spoke in the debate to highlight the need to ratify the Istanbul Convention and to increase the support given to education of children:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hodgson, for securing this debate. It is a great honour to be taking part and to listen to the contributions of so many amazing supporters of women and girls. I should also like to draw attention to my interests as set out in the register.
Following previous speakers, I too should like to reinforce what has been said about violence and access to education. As has been said, before, during and after conflict girls face both physical and sexual violence. It is important to note that trauma follows adolescent girls when they flee from conflict, whether they become refugees or are internally displaced. There is a high risk of sexual abuse in overcrowded, unsanitary and unsafe refugee areas. Girls face not only prostitution and the risk of early marriage; they also face isolation and a lack of access to healthcare and psychological support. I would like to ask the Minister: what specific action are the Government currently taking to support girls in these vulnerable places, and how will rebuilding peace after conflict specifically involve support for these girls?
Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester urges Government to support girls in conflict-zones and ratify Istanbul Convention”
On 10th March 2017 the House of Lords considered at Second Reading the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill, a Private Member’s Bill that originated in the House of Commons, sponsored in the Lords by Baroness Gale. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in support of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: We on these Benches also give our wholehearted support to the Bill. I have been following this issue for some while—indeed, I have participated in previous debate and tabled some Questions. I congratulate Dr Eilidh Whiteford in the other place and the noble Baroness, Lady Gale, on the hard work that they and others have done in getting the Bill so far, and the many agencies involved in getting it to us today, including IC Change. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans supports Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill”
On 8th March 2017, Baroness Verma asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what steps they are taking to help men who seek support in addressing their abusive behaviour’. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there are certain problems in the wording of this Question? Most men who engage in abusive behaviour do not recognise it as abusive and do not seek support, so there has to be a very important balance between preventive and restorative measures.
Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks question on male abusive behaviour”
On 9th June 2016 Lord Berkeley of Knighton led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they intend to take in the light of NHS statistics showing that in 2015 over 1,000 cases of female genital mutilation were reported every three months and the lack of any successful prosecutions to date.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate, highlighting the historic and cultural influences behind the practice and the work taking place at a local and grassroots level to reduce instances of FGM and support the law.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for introducing this vital debate and making the point that we need to keep this subject in the public domain to raise awareness and challenge people.
I want to offer some perspectives from my experience in Derby, where I operate as a bishop at grassroots level, to try to help understand why we are in this position and how we might best tackle things. Your Lordships will know that FGM is a very ancient practice going back to at least the fifth century BC. It was mentioned by Herodotus, especially in Egypt and Ethiopia, all that time ago. I remind noble Lords that FGM was practised until the 1950s in western countries as part of dealing with what was then called “female deviancy”. Things such as hysteria, epilepsy and lesbianism were dealt with by this horrific practice as an enlightened medical approach to those conditions. We have to recognise that it is not only deeply embedded in ancient culture, but until quite recently in the west, we have been implicated in using this barbaric method for medical reasons. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby highlights importance of local grassroots work in combating FGM”