Actor and writer Michaela Coel, singer FKA twigs and the Women’s Equality party are among these calls for the introduction of mandatory training for police and agencies supporting black women victims of domestic violence.
A video campaign launched on Wednesday highlights how black women are at an increased risk of ending up with their attackers after police are called due to an incident of violence.
The campaign is led by Sistah Space, an anti-domestic violence charity that supports women of African and Caribbean descent. Its managing director, Ngozi Fulani, said: “Without making this life-saving training compulsory, black women must play with their lives to see if the officer responding to the scene is able to spot the unique signs of abuse in the environments. black on black skin. .
“Too often black women are shunned by law enforcement, paying with their lives for mistakes that can be avoided simply by applying Valerie’s Law.”
The Valerie’s Law petition, which has nearly 17,000 signatures, bears the name of Valerie Forde, who was murdered by her ex-partner in 2014 alongside their 22-month-old daughter. She had previously sought help from the police after her ex threatened to burn the house down with her, but it was recorded as a property threat.
British musician FKA twigs, who accused actor Shia LaBeouf of physical, emotional and verbal abuse in a lawsuit filed last December (allegations he denies), voiced the campaign film.
It features Call the Midwife actor Megan Cusack and Leah Harvey, star of Apple TV’s upcoming Fantasy Foundation, who play a woman left with her attacker after a police officer fails to acknowledge her assault – a chilling warning over reliance on the appearance of physical injuries, which may be less evident on darker skin tone.
Harvey told The Guardian, “I sympathize with anyone who is going through a hard time, but this particular cause is about black women who are not treated the same as their white counterparts. I support this law as a person who feels the effects every day of living in a society where the infrastructure has been built by those who have not seen black people.
According to a Sistah Space study, 86% of women of African and / or Caribbean descent in the UK have experienced domestic violence or know a family member who has been assaulted. However, only 57% of victims said they would report the abuse to the police.
The Fulani said, “There is a lack of trust because the police do not take black women who have been assaulted seriously. They are not always believed and there is a pervasive stereotype that black women are tough and don’t need as much protection as white women.
“Many users of our services return to abusive situations, give up or are even suicidal. “
The charity saw a 400% increase in calls during the pandemic, but the Fulani said it was disappointed there was no more public support for black women at risk.
She said: “Everyone knows Sarah Everard’s name and of course when she disappeared we all felt it because she was a woman who should have been safe on the streets.
“But we quickly realized that there is a different response from the media and especially the police when a black woman goes missing.”
Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said a mandate requiring relevant organizations to address racial or cultural barriers to reporting violence and abuse was long overdue. She said: “This is an essential step in building trust between communities of color and the police and criminal justice system.”
A response to the government petition said there was no need to impose training, as current training on domestic violence should include recognition of the specific needs of victims due to their ethnic or cultural background. He added that the domestic abuse law passed earlier this year was a “game changer” that would strengthen victim response across all agencies.