Defend Rape Crisis centres

Submitted by Newcastle on 30 July, 2009 - 6:20 Author: Gemma Short reviews Panorama, BBC1, 6 July.

Rape Crisis centres offer essential support and services to survivors of sexual abuse, yet around half of the 32 remaining centres could face closure or severe cutbacks due to lack of funding.

Rape crisis centres form part of the growing voluntary sector which relies in part on charity funding and in part on a small pot of government money for voluntary sector organisations. These organisations often provide essential frontline services, from services such as Rape Crisis to Shelter. The whole setup amounts to a semi-privatisation of what was once public sector territory.

Rape Crisis reports that a large shortfall in budgets will come from the government not renewing grants from the Victims’ Fund, which many charities, voluntary sector organisations and partly public sector organisations had to compete for.

Rape Crisis centres are a crucial service: it is estimated only 93% of rape is reported, most women understandably would not turn to the police for help.

Once again we see the government failing to provide on the basis of need. While it makes massive cuts to public services such as social care, it also does not provide adequate funding for the voluntary sector organisations that pick up the pieces. We need to fight back, not only to save services such as Rape Crisis centres, but also to fight for re-nationalisation where services have been sold to the private sector, and the creation of public services, where they are wanting, to meet need.

* Rape Crisis campaign: email londonstudentfeminists@googlemail.com.

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