THE BLOG

Our Attitude to Violence Against Women

07/03/2014 15:33 GMT | Updated 06/05/2014 10:59 BST

Cassandra Hasonvic, aged 24 years, was stabbed to death by her husband in front of her two sons as she was fleeing to a women's refuge. She had been stalked by her husband for some time leading up to the murder. The police had failed to arrest her husband and had apparently refused to escort her to the refuge when asked. The police role in this has been examined but what about the role of other agencies in cases like these and what about the attitude of the general public.

Cassandra Hasonvic was clearly in need of a safe place to go to - a place where her husband could not find her - this is what women's refuges provide and these refuges are often supported financially by local authorities who are now slashing their budgets.

There are threats of a refuge being closed in Exeter because of cuts to support funding by the local council. Twelve spaces have recently been closed in West Berkshire leaving only four and refuges in Wales face closure because of the planned cap on benefits.

Around 150 women are turned away from refuges every day because of cuts and closures. Two women are murdered every week in the UK by current or former partners and yet the cuts to this most vital of services go on.

Very few of us can imagine the terror Cassandra Hasanvic must have felt in the final weeks and days of her life. To be stalked and hunted by a vicious and determined man, as she was, is something few people will experience but it is a reality for many women each year.

To be a victim of any crime can be traumatic but if we measure crimes by the suffering caused then this must rank amongst the most serious. To be stalked for weeks and months - to be terrorised and to live a life of fear - to ask for help from the only people who can give it and to be murdered anyway surely makes this one of the most serious crimes of all. Yet we are closing down the refuges that would otherwise help some of these victims - just to save a bit of money.

As a police officer I saw the results of the worst of domestic violence - the harassment: the assaults and sometimes the rape and murder. We weren't always good at dealing with it but we did get better. To have seen the results of domestic violence leaves me with a sense of obligation to write about it because I suspect most people can't imagine it and don't care about it.

If more people accepted the horrific nature of some of the worst of domestic abuse then there would surely be fewer cuts to women's refuges and yet they are closing all over the Country and there will be fewer places for terrified women to go.

Men also suffer domestic abuse but all the evidence suggests that more women are victimised and they suffer higher levels of violence - female murder victims are more likely to have been killed by a partner or ex-partner.

Perhaps there is a clue about attitudes to domestic violence and the killing of women in the recent Paddy Power advert offering money back on all bets if Oscar Pistorius - the South African athlete - walks free from court. There is no doubt that Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, to death - the trial is about his motive for doing it.

The Paddy Power advert used the line 'Its Oscar time' and appeared to treat the trial with levity - just a bit of sport worthy of a wager. Whatever the outcome of the trial a women suffered a violent death and to make the trial the object of a sporting bet is a vile thing to do. Apparently nearly a thousand people put on a bet. You could probably make a safe bet that they would not have put out the advert had it been a member of their own family who was killed.

Anyway the advert has become the most complained about one in history and Paddy Power have been told to withdraw it - this after a determined campaign by a lady called Jean Hatchet - but refuges in the UK continue to close.