Mothers' Union members march on Downing Street in support of survivors of Domestic Abuse

Mothers’ Union members will today, Friday 25th November, march on Downing Street to hand in a petition that we hope will force the Government to reconsider the rules for survivors of domestic abuse. The petition, signed by over 4500 of Mothers’ Union members and other supporters, highlights problems with the current child maintenance payment system which could force survivors of domestic abuse to engage with a former partner, the very perpetrator who carried out the abuse against them. 

Mothers’ Union is campaigning for survivors to be exempt from the 'collect and pay' charges imposed for using the statutory Child Maintenance Service, as they may have no other option to receive or make payments for their children without further risk of control, abuse or violence.

Rachel Aston, Social Policy Manager, explained how thousands of survivors could be at risk if they were put off from using the Child Maintenance Service because of the charges. "Figures show that one in three applicants to the Child Maintenance Service has experienced domestic abuse. Under this system survivors of abuse will pay an automatic 4 per cent levy, equivalent to an average of £130, which may not sound a lot to some but may be a tipping point for a mum who then struggles to pay for her child's school uniform and PE kit for the year. The new system puts pressure on women to use the family-based arrangement, or direct pay, which may result in continuing contact with an abusive ex-partner."

The campaigners will leave Mary Sumner House in Westminster and march past the Houses of Parliament, towards Whitehall to arrive at the official residence of the Prime Minister. Single mum Jackie* described her experience; "I have been in that position, and it can be hard to manage on a limited income. My ex told social services that he gave the children pocket money and this amount was promptly taken from my support. I lost out and he thought it funny”. 

Christine*, who runs three child contact centres, said; “I know how long it takes in many cases of relationship breakdown for any chance at respect-full communication to take place and it is certainly not right at the beginning when maintenance arrangements are needed." 

Earlier in the day, Mothers’ Union members from around the world will also light candles and take part in a ‘Global Moment’ to stand alongside and support and pray for the millions of women who suffer domestic violence in its many forms, which has reached endemic proportions in many parts of the world.  

Bev Jullien, Mothers’ Union’s CEO, said; “Mary Sumner, who founded the Mothers’ Union 140 years ago, refused to accept injustice for women. Similarly, in this generation, women, families and communities are suffering because of practices that fuel prejudice and result in hardship for thousands of vulnerable women.”

Today’s activities form part of a major Mothers’ Union campaign, to shine the light on gender based violence [GBV] with the clear message that ‘It’s Not OK’ [#itsnotok]. The campaign will highlight the many forms that GBV takes from controlling behaviour by a partner to rape as a weapon of war.

Globally, the campaign will call on governments and leaders to ensure that national, local and customary laws prohibit all forms of violence against women. The campaign will also call for survivors to have access to justice and support services, and that perpetrators are prosecuted. 

More information can be found in the Gender Based here

Follow the march and Global Moment on twitter (@MothersUnion)