The British government has been criticised by the UN for lacking “a consistent and coherent” approach to tackling violence against women, warning that its austerity agenda will further undermine the safety of vulnerable individuals.
A leaked copy of the official report of the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, seen by the Guardian, also calls for an urgent independent inquiry into Yarl’s Wood, Britain’s largest immigration centre for women, and focus of repeated allegations over sexual and physical abuse against detainees.
Manjoo’s findings, to be unveiled on Tuesday at a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, are the conclusions from her fact-finding tour of Britain in April last year during which she examined the UK’s approach to the issue.
The senior UN official concludes that although the UK has made the issue a policy priority, the reality is that “isolated pockets of good practice” are compromised by the “lack of a consistent and coherent human-rights based approach in the government’s response to violence against women and girls”.
Manjoo, a South African academic, criticises how the Home Office refused repeated requests to inspect Yarl’s Wood and blocked subsequent attempts by her to visit the Bedfordshire centre independently, contravening not only the code of conduct for members of the UN Human Rights Council but also the terms of reference governing fact-finding missions by UN special rapporteurs.
Elsewhere, Manjoo recommends that sex education should be made compulsory in all schools, saying that such a move would be a “fundamental way of ensuring the UK tries to prevent abuse”.
The recommendation backs campaigners who argue that mandatory sex education arms pupils with the information to make sensible decisions and would act as a key preventative measure. ”The UK should commit to solid long-term prevention measures including SRE [sexual and relationships education] in schools,” writes Manjoo.
“UK under fire over ‘incoherent’ approach to domestic violence”