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Violence against Women and Girls

Volume 571: debated on Monday 2 December 2013

13. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Education on preventing violence against women and girls. (901345)

The Department for Education routinely attends meetings of the violence against women and girls inter-ministerial group. We are committed to working in collaboration with the Department of Education to deliver actions from the violence against women and girls action plan to help young people better understand issues such as consent and healthy relationships.

Given that two women a week die at the hands of a partner or ex-partner and, alarmingly, that 50% of young men and 43% of young women feel it is acceptable for men to be aggressive towards their partners, the situation needs collective action. What in particular is the Home Secretary doing in conjunction with the Education Secretary about the introduction of compulsory relationship and sex education, not just in the secondary maintained sector, but in the primary and secondary sectors?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to point to the appalling figures for the number of women who lose their lives each week in this country at the hands of a partner or former partner. Sadly, that figure has not changed for many years. Regularly, for a number of years, about two women a week have lost their lives in that way.

I share the hon. Lady’s concern about the figures showing the number of young people who think that abuse within a relationship is normal. That is something that we must change. It is why the Home Office will shortly relaunch our very successful “This is Abuse” national campaign, which shows young people when actions constitute abuse and helps them to understand that.

Early next year, Home Office Ministers will meet Ministers from the Department for Education and teaching unions to raise awareness among staff and pupils about risks linked to violence against women and girls. I am pleased to say that the Department for Education is providing funding to the PSHE Association to work with schools that are developing their personal, social, health and economic education curricula, which includes sex and relationships education.