We know that domestic violence is one of the major threats to women's health and well-being. Women between 15-44 are more at risk from domestic violence than they are from cancer. Two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Yet while reports of domestic violence have risen under this government, 13% fewer cases are being passed by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service for decisions on charging.
In terms of domestic abuse, 31% of women have experienced one or more incidents since the age of 16. It is worth bearing in mind that sexual violence and domestic abuse are vastly underreported, so even though the UK is on par with the rest of the world statistically, in reality these numbers are likely to be much higher.
There are a huge number of activities going on around the world to improve the situation for women, and there are places where men are working with women to achieve this. There's no doubt that this movement is gaining momentum and makes nonsense of the idea that men cannot see women as equals. It's an outdated way of thinking, and increasingly governments, businesses, communities and families are all coming to recognise the positive benefits to be had when women and men are working together and treating each other as equal partners. Of the numerous ways to change women's lives for the better, I've picked out five things that you can do to help make that change today:
I have the privilege to share my thoughts whether it is out of anger, frustration or happiness. Although theoretically I've always known this is a privilege, I have only now understood how precious this freedom is. In my recent work, I met women and girls who cannot think freely, let alone speak out...
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.
It is time to focus on the quality of delivery, not issue new policy documents. The process to review and support practitioners working in these specialised courts, which used to be in place and was abandoned, needs to be revitalised. And in revitalising that, the courts themselves need to be re-energised and need to look at new developments in the evidence
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.
The prevalence of violence against women and this latest research ought to shock us out of our complacency. We simply cannot go on shutting our eyes and hoping the problem will solve itself. As well as tackling violence when it occurs, we must seek to prevent it happening in the first place. Compulsory sex and relationship education in schools is key to this.
When Afsana Lachaux left her job as a senior civil servant four years ago in London it was as a newly wed to start afresh in Dubai, but she could never have imagined how that dream would swiftly turn into a nightmare. A victim of domestic abuse, Afsana took her baby and bravely left her partner three years ago, but has been trapped in Dubai ever since...
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.