4th Dec, 2021

City's MPs joined forces on International Women's Day to show their support for the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre

COVENTRY’S MPs united on International Women’s Day to highlight the good work of the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) and slammed the underfunding of the charity’s services.

Zarah Sultana, Colleen Fletcher and Taiwo Owatemi spoke out as the number of people on CRASAC’s waiting list exceeded more than 400 with some possibly having to wait over 12 months for the vital support they need.

This year’s IWD has the theme of #ChoosetoChallenge and the charity is campaigning for more funding to provide support to the victims of rape and sexual abuse.

It is also looking to change the stigma around talking about sexual violence and challenge the criminal justice system as, while rape reporting has increased, prosecutions have fallen to a record low.

CRASAC marks its 40th year in 2021 after supporting more than 76,000 people and is hoping to raise £40,000 in the coming months.

It will work closely with the city’s MPs to raise awareness of these issues and to call for more to be done.

Ms Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, said: “Services for survivors of rape and sexual violence have faced brutal funding cuts for years and it is clear this needs to change.”

She labelled the 400-strong waiting list as ‘unacceptable’ adding that, although local authorities were doing all they can, she wanted central government to provide more funding for charities offering these services.

Ms Fletcher, MP for Coventry North East, said: “I know that funding issues are always difficult, yet this is not a service we can afford to underfund in a fair and decent society.

“We need to ensure victims feel able to come forward in the sure and certain knowledge that they will be supported through the justice system.”

Ms Sultana, MP for Coventry South, added: “This International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to highlight this disgraceful Government underfunding, the failure to bring perpetrators of sexual violence to justice, and the ongoing stigma around sexual abuse.

“Sexual violence is an injustice we must banish to the past.

“Through investing in services like CRASAC and in challenging behaviours that tolerate sexual abuse, we can give survivors the support they deserve.”

Natalie Thompson, CEO of CRASAC, said: “Although those on our waiting list receive regular check-in calls from emotional support workers, we would argue that this is not enough.

“More needs to be done to ensure that frontline organisations such as CRASAC are able to provide the quality of support that victims and survivors deserve, and we will be working with our MPs to challenge this.”

As well as counselling and specialist helpline services, CRASAC provides a crisis and advocacy service to provide support to victims navigating the criminal justice system. A team of accredited Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) assist with reporting incidents to police and going to court and there is no waiting list for this service.

Email fundraising@crasac.org.uk for more information

Anyone who has experienced rape or sexual violence at anytime in their life and would like a confidential discussion can contact CRASAC’s helpline on 02476 277 777.

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