Red roses a symbol to show women can thwart violence

10:00am Friday 14th February 2014

By Ben Wilkinson

FEMINISTS will be protesting today to support people in the city who are trapped in violent relationships.

The Oxford Rising event comes as police statistics show domestic abuse reports are increasing in the city while the Thames Valley Crown Prosecution Service fails to manage domestic violence cases effectively.

The protest will see a flash mob performance at 1pm in Gloucester Green followed by a street party where campaigners will hand out red roses.

Organiser Dana Mills, from Jericho, said: “Valentine’s Day is when we all celebrate our love for each other, but many women cannot celebrate that as they are vulnerable within relationships.

“This is a call to rise up and protest against that and think about those people.”

The 32-year-old political theory lecturer and PHD student at the University of Oxford added: “Part of it is to protest in a non-violent way and show that women are strong and can resist. We will be giving red roses to symbolise that.”

The latest Thames Valley Police figures show reports of domestic abuse crimes in Oxford have risen 10 per cent since April last year with 578 reports up to January 31 compared to the 526 in the same period the year before. Between April 2011 and January 2012 there were 676 reports.

Figures in an inspection report published this month from July last year rated the Thames Valley Crown Prosecution Service unit worst in the country for rates of discontinuing domestic violence cases.

Natalie Brook, service manager at the Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre which is backing the event, said more needed to be done to help victims.

She said: “Sexual violence against women and girls is widespread – one in five women will experience sexual abuse in her lifetime – and this is demonstrated by the increasing numbers of women and girls we support in Oxfordshire.

“However, only 15 per cent of women report experiences of sexual violence to the police, and services that support survivors of sexual violence are critically underfunded.

“Greater commitment from policymakers is needed to improve support.”

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