Duchess of Cornwall hosts reception supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse

by Natasha Wynarczyk

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall PA

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception in support of survivors of rape and sexual abuse at Clarence House yesterday (Feb 5).

She organised the reception in order to bring together political figures, rape support groups and rape survivors. Guests at the event included Home Secretary Theresa May and Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer.

Since 2009 the Duchess has visited nine Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the UK, meeting a number of victims of rape and sexual abuse.

Their stories left her with a strong desire to raise awareness about rape and help those affected.

In an impassioned speech to guests yesterday she said: 'Over the past few years, I have seen for myself some of the remarkable work being undertaken by representatives of rape crisis organisations, the National Health Service and the police across the country.

'During my visits to some of these centres I have been so impressed by the professionalism and commitment of the individuals who provide a lifeline to the women, the children and the men, who have been left shamed and traumatised and made to feel so worthless through no fault of their own.

'Perhaps, from this small beginning, we will be able to build a future where society will simply not tolerate rape and sexual abuse any longer.'

Survivor Mia James chatted to The Duchess for several minutes following her speech. She said: 'I just thanked her  for her support.

'We need somebody high profile to raise awareness for the common man, because our juries are made up of each and every one of us - and each and every one of us has misconceptions about rape, misconceptions about the causes of rape.

'It's a case of wanting to get the message out as to what it's all about, and I'm really happy we've got The Duchess doing that.'

Mr Starmer said 'hard work' was needed to increase the confidence of victims to help encourage them to report rape, adding that the Duchess's contribution was 'really positive.'

'It's fantastic that she's shown such a level of commitment to this important area,' he said.

'Bringing these people together is a very significant step. We're working together more than we were - but we need to continue to do so.'

A spokesperson from Clarence House confirmed that today's meeting was the first time such a wide range of representatives from various UK groups had met to focus solely on issues surrounding rape and sexual abuse.

Currently the Duchess is implementing a pilot scheme where victims of rape and sexual abuse who have undergone a forensic examination will receive a washbag full of toiletries so they can have a shower. This two-year pilot will run at the Haven Centres in London and if successful will be rolled out across the country.
 
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