New research from Plan shows the shocking truth about adolescent girls in developing countries. In one of the largest studies ever undertaken of its kind, we talked to 7000 adolescent girls and boys in 11 countries about girls' opportunities. The findings are overwhelming. These girls are some of the most disadvantaged people on earth.
Statistically, by far the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship and when a women and her children are most likely to be killed is when she seeks help. It is crucial that she is able to leave her home and find a confidential place of safety away from the perpetrator. Without that women will be forced to return to the perpetrator just to ensure that she and her children are not homeless.
I am particularly worried about the justice gap and the lack of action when it comes to violence against women. Not only have prosecutions and convictions fallen at a time when reported crimes are going up, there is a growing use of community resolutions which are just inappropriate for serious crimes. Much as the Home Office like to tell us this is OK, it isn't.
Violence against women and children by men is important but it is not the whole story. It is important for victims or survivors of LGBT domestic abuse to know that they are not alone, that help and advice is available and that they do not need to put up with an abusive relationship. Many people think support for victims of domestic violence is only available to women who suffer at the hands of an abusive male partner but that is not the case. Many people are unaware that they can be safe, they can be supported and that there is a route out of an abusive same-sex relationship.
Despite the snobbery, soaps attract dedicated followings. A full cross-section of society, who will watch any story with which they are presented, no matter how uncomfortable. On a daily basis, topics like euthanasia, gender identification, murder, rape and domestic abuse are brought directly into homes around the country.
This Friday, I'll be taking to the stage in Trafalgar Square, and shouting from the top of my lungs that we do not have to be fed up, that we do not have to accept this. At midday I'll be joining One Billion Rising, a global campaign that has made it its mission to end violence against women, and rising up for justice for women here in the UK and far further afield. We will call for political change, from mandatory sex education in schools, action to ensure that women in immigration detention centres are safe from violence, and the repeal of visa laws that tie domestic workers to their employers and put them at serious risk of exploitation. We will dance and sing - and we will make ourselves heard.
Fiona Bruce MP recently stated that the breakdown of marriage was a "public health emergency". She couldn't be further from the truth. The real public health emergency in the UK is domestic violence, from which two women die per week. MPs like Bruce should be supporting women for leaving abusive marriages, not judging them.