The Duchess of Cornwall has paid tribute to a campaign by the Women’s Institute (WI) to encourage its members to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women.
Camilla, who has been highlighting the issue of domestic abuse for a number of years, personally thanked the WI members, telling them: “You will never know how many lives you have, quite literally, saved.”
Her praise came in an article she has written for the latest edition of the WI’s membership magazine WI Life, and she gives a brief history of the work of individuals and organisations to support women in fear of their safety.
The duchess writes: “To all of you – and to every single WI member across England, Wales and the islands who has supported women’s refuges – thank you. You will never know how many lives you have, quite literally, saved.”
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Camilla, a member of Tetbury WI and Llandovery WI, writes: “Two women are killed every week by a current or former partner in England and Wales.
“This tragic statistic has not altered in several decades. Thousands of lives have been lost.
“Countless more have had to leave their homes and one in four women across the UK continues to live with abuse.
“This is particularly in our minds as we approach Christmas, when rates of domestic violence rise significantly, but with abusive partners at home more it can be harder to call for help.”
The WI’s No More Violence Against Women initiative was launched in 2019 and follows the organisation’s longstanding work to ensure women and girls can live their lives free from the fear of abuse.
In 1975 the WI campaigned for the funding of refuges in every county, it also worked to make sure domestic violence survivors were able to access justice through the courts in 1988, and to adequately define domestic violence under the law in 1993.
The duchess also talks candidly about the complex issues of violence against women, which she says includes economic abuse, digital abuse, stalking, harassment and coercive control.
“As our knowledge of different types of abuse increases, so must our efforts to raise awareness to empower victims to recognise the signs and to seek help.”
Ann Jones, chairwoman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, thanked the duchess for her article, which comes ahead of White Ribbon Day – November 25 – which encourages men to take responsibility for reducing violence against women.
She said: “The terrible events of this year have reinforced how far we have still to go before our homes and public spaces are truly safe for women.
“WI members across the country are determined to redouble their efforts to make sure that all women and girls can live the lives they choose, free from the fear of abuse.
“On the 50th anniversary since the first refuge opened in the UK, WI members continue to support and build relationships with their local refuges through volunteering, collecting donations of essential items and raising vital funds.”