Green Party Women

Green Party conference passes motions on domestic abuse, pay and maternity services

24 March 2009

A major set of policies on domestic abuse, including domestic violence, which was developed in close consultation with Green councillors, was passed at the Green Party Spring Conference 2009 at Blackpool. Among its provisions were calls for relationship education in schools to inculcate respect for others, multiagency working to identify abuse and improve prevention and early intervention efforts, and for domestic violence shelters to be given guaranteed permanent funding.

On maternity services, conference passed C05, calling for a full range of birth options to be available to all women, and supporting midwifery-led care along the model provided by independent midwives.

Also passed was a motion calling for the forthcoming Equality Act to provide for gender pay audits, for unions and individuals to be more easily able to start equal pay cases, and for a requirement on major companies to have at least 40 per cent of their boards female (as is now the case in Norway).

And conference also backed a motion calling for gender issues tobe fully and properly recognised in applications for asylum.

The motions passed are detailed below

Domestic abuse

Insert a new section titled “domestic abuse” after CJ350 (Hate Crime) and
renumber subsequent sections.

CJ351 Addressing the imbalances of power – including economic and social power – that can leave individuals vulnerable to domestic abuse is central to many aspects of Green Party policy. The Green Party recognises that domestic abuse takes places in a range of circumstances, in all types of relationships, and that the victims can be women or men, children or vulnerable adults, including disabled adults and older adults. Nonetheless, it is acknowledged that a large majority of cases involve abuse by men against women, with research indicating that one in four women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime. On average more than two women a week in Britain are killed by current or former domestic partners. Abuse can be physical, emotional or psychological,
financial, or involve restricting of personal freedom.
CJ352 Relationship education to inculcate values of respect for others and respect for difference will be provided in schools and other appropriate environments. Such educatio will also provide knowledge about the unacceptability of abusive behaviour of all types, and about when potential victims are most vulnerable (such as women during  pregnancy, in relationships involving drugs and alcohol), how abusers can gradually wear away at resistance, and what escape routes are available.
CJ353 Programmes will be provided that train all frontline staff dealing with the public, including housing officers, street rangers, police, workers in the health services and particularly maternity services, and other relevant individuals to recognise signs of abuse and to be able to provide pathways of escape for victims. They will recognise that for different victims different referral points and aid agencies will be appropriate. Victims will not be pushed towards police and the criminal justice system against their inclination or will. Peer support networks, with appropriate training and support, will be encouraged.
CJ354 Multi-agency working is essential to identify the full extent of domestic abuse and improve prevention or early intervention. Crime Reduction Partnerships must take the lead in co-ordinating information from refuges, NHS, Police, Children’s Services, Adult Services, social housing, schools, voluntary organisations and any other appropriate local body who may have information about individuals and families at risk.
CJ355 The Green Party recognise
that domestic abuse can have wide ranging impacts, affecting whole families and neighbourhoods. Where children are living in households where there is physical abuse among partners, the children can often also be at risk of physical abuse, and witnessing abuse can have longterm psychological damage. We will expand access to counselling is for all those affected by domestic abuse, the victims, the witnesses and the perpetrators. This is the most effective way of reducing re-offending and breaking cycles of offending within family and neighbourhood networks.
CJ356 It will be assumed that victims will be assisted to remain in their own homes with the provision of all necessary safety measures (including alarms, improved locks and grills, extra police patrols, “neighbourhood watch” schemes etc). Where this is not possible or desired by the victim, appropriate immediate refuge and future housing will be available for all victims escaping domestic abuse. All of these provisions will be publicly funded with permanent guaranteed funding, so that there is certainty about their continuity. Victims will be offered appropriate counselling, and measures put in place to attempt to prevent offenders reoffending.
CJ357 For victims escaping domestic abuse, lack of funds can be a major barrier. If the abuser controls finance and the victim can not access public funding (e.g. working individuals who can’t claim benefits), then the
barriers to escaping are increased. All essential services will be made readily available to all victims to
help them through the trauma and difficulties to escape abuse, including help with housing, legal costs, etc. The court system will be provided with appropriate resources and guidance to ensure that the needs
of victims of abuse are recognised, both in hearings related to their case and other matters.
CJ366 Asylum policy will recognise that claimants may be especially vulnerable to domestic abuse, and will ensure that asylum claims of victims fleeing abuse are treated appropriately. It will also recognise that claims may be validly made on the ground that victims’ own state will not or cannot protect them from an abusive partner.

Gender and asylum

Insert into RA405 in the refugees and asylum seekers chapter of the MfSS after “Convention”:
The Green Party further recognises that gender issues may be a rightful cause for an asylum claim, as where, for example, a woman or girl may be subject to female genital mutilation or forced marriage were she to be denied asylum.

Maternity services

Insert a new section after H302, titled “Maternity Services” and subsequently

H303 All women should be entitled to the highest standards of care during pregnancy and birth, and post-natally. We will ensure that women are given the information they need to make appropriate choices about how they wish to give birth, and that a full range of options, including home birth and a range of styles of hospital delivery, is
made available to all women.

H304 The incidence of medical intervention in childbirth has escalated in recent years, particularly the rate of caesarean sections, which are expensive and, when not medically required, risky. We will work to
reduce the number of interventions in childbirth, and change the culture of the NHS so that birth is treated as a normal and non-medical event, in which mothers are empowered and able to be in control.

H305 All women will be entitled to the care of a single midwife through prenatal care, birth and the first month of post-natal care, in line with the model of care currently provided by independent midwives. This will be made possible by initiatives to improve the recruitment and retention of midwives.
H306 We will ensure that the NHS embraces the current quality and style of care as offered by Independent Midwives so that they are able to work within the NHS system and offer this type of care to all women in a single tier system. We shall ensure that midwifery training places are increased to meet medium and long term needs. This will be achieved by: ensuring that terms and conditions for midwives are improved, increasing investment in midwifery services to ensure that these policies are delivered, specific funding for midwife training along with targeted recruitment drives, and ensuring that the culture of midwifery services is supportive for
both mothers and midwives.

H307 All women and their partners will be offered a full range of psychological support after birth to help deal with trauma and post-natal depression. The Green Party will ensure that baby clinics are open for adequate hours, so that women can get access to health visitors and take their babies for regular check-ups at a location and time that is convenient for them.
H308 Maternity units should be sufficient in number and located so that all women are within reasonable reach of one. Special Care Baby units will be expanded in line with the increasing number of babies that need intensive care, but special attention will also be given to preventative efforts to reduce the number of low birthweight and other problems that contribute to this need. Funds allocated for maternity services should
be ringfenced to ensure that they are used for the intended purpose.
H309 Throughout maternity services the focus will be on compassion and on providing a safe, supportive environment. Complaints will be treated with sympathy, and systems arranged to ensure that complaints
can be registered easily and are investigated properly, challenging the ‘conspiracy of silence’ that discourages women from speaking about their traumatic experiences for fear of frightening other women.

 Women in employment and business

The Green Party calls for the forthcoming Equality bill and Act to include
the following provisions
1 Medium and large-sized companies be required to undertake equal pay audits that compare the earnings of their employees and to take action to redress inequalities.
2 Legal changes to make it much easier for women to take equal pay cases to court, and to allow women to take such cases as a group, with the support of the unions.
3 Significant funding is put into encouraging girls and women to consider a broader range of careers.
4 The law to follow Norway’s in requiring that companies listed on the Stock Exchange have 40% of their board members being female within five years of the date of the passing of the legislation.

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