What will Labour do for us - here’s how the new Prime Minister aims to tackle domestic abuse

The UK has a new Labour Prime Minister - here’s what it means for survivors of domestic- and gender-based violence

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: A woman films on a mobile phone as Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during the launch of Labour's general election manifesto on June 13, 2024 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Labour is consistently leading the polls by over 20 points, according to the latest YouGov data. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s official: Sir Keir Starmer has been elected the new Prime Minister of the UK.

The Labour Party won the general election by a landslide—the first of its kind in 27 years—but how will Labour’s win support and protect young girls and women from gender-based violence?

Domestic abuse and violence against girls and women is a national emergency - currently, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner, rape convictions are shamefully low, and there’s a widespread lack of trust in the police.

As Farah Nazeer told us at last week’s General Election rally held by Women’s Aid and partners, “Domestic abuse will never be solved by a silver bullet. It’s a whole society problem, and it needs a whole society response.” Sir Keir Starmer has stated his intentions to “tackle the scourge of violence against women and girls”, but speaking to us at the rally, Jo Todd, Chief Executive of Respect, explained that “Until they put their money where their mouth is, all we have is words.” So where will the new government be putting their money?

Starmer has pledged to bring in specialist rape units in every police force. Labour will also review the sentencing guidelines for offenders and set up 80 specialist courts across England and Wales to fast-track rape cases, which currently have a shamefully long wait time. A study by Saunders Law makes for damning reading; “Virtually all rape victims are denied justice”. The same report reveals there was a 68% increase in rapes since 2016-2017, yet of these reported cases, only 2.4% of all cases were ever charged. Rape Crisis England and Wales also notes that 5 in 6 women who are raped don’t report it. 38% list a lack of trust in the police as their reason for not coming forward. Labour has also stated they will introduce automatic suspensions for police officers accused of domestic abuse and sexual offences.

Shabana Mahmood, Labour’s Shadow Lord Chancellor, is confident in her party’s approach to tackling the domestic abuse epidemic. She has stated that Labour will “halve violence against women and girls within a decade”. Mahmood has promised to introduce “free legal advocates for rape victims to ensure that victims’ rights are respected.” Speaking to Marie Claire UK last week, Farah Nazeer, CEO of Women’s Aid, explained that she’s worked with many women and children who have shockingly said that the court system was even worse than the abuse they faced. Refuge has called on the new government to bring this policy in immediately to help “rebuild women’s low trust and confidence in the police.”

Refuge has responded to the general election results to say they look forward to working with this new government “particularly around their ambitious pledge to halve violence against women and girls within a decade; for them to be successful in this commitment, there is a lot of work to be done.”

With Sir Keir Starmer’s election as our new Prime Minister, we hope that the Labour Party will commit to the work that has to be done. As Todd put it, it’s time for them to “put their money where their mouth is.”

We will continue to update this story

Key Labour Manifesto takeaways

  • Labour has promised “to halve violence against women and girls within a decade”.
  • The Labour manifesto stated they would make misogyny a hate crime
  • Labour has not committed to funding specialist support services for survivors of violence against women and girls
  • The Government has committed to addressing the shameful backlog for survivors of violence against women and girls seeking justice in the courts
  • Labour has pledged to create 80 new specialist rape courts
Mischa Anouk Smith
News and Features Editor

Mischa Anouk Smith is the News and Features Editor of Marie Claire UK.

From personal essays to purpose-driven stories, reported studies, and interviews with celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers including Dries Van Noten, Mischa has been featured in publications such as Refinery29, Stylist and Dazed. Her work explores what it means to be a woman today and sits at the intersection of culture and style, though, in the spirit of eclecticism, she has also written about NFTs, mental health and the rise of AI bands.