Lynne Featherstone writes on violence against women in India and Burma

Since 2010 I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the UK’s ministerial champion for tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) overseas – a role that’s followed me from the Home Office to Department for International Development and back, which makes sense. It’s a clear sign that as well as our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls in the UK, this Coalition Government is committed to working internationally to end this global problem.

And being VAWG champion has kept me quite busy. From the UN to the UAE and Bangladesh, I’ve compared notes with ministers, officials and civil society groups around the world on how we can end the epidemic of gender-based violence.

Today I begin my final foreign mission on this important agenda – to India and Burma.

This will be my second visit to India as VAWG champion, and I’m looking forward to seeing what progress has been made since that visit in 2011. We’re all aware of the truly shocking and high-profile rapes that have taken place in India in recent years, and I’m keen to see how the Indian government is working with communities to protect and empower women. I’ll be meeting a range of senior influencers in Delhi and I’ll also travel to Madhya Pradesh where I’ll learn about some initiatives on safe cities.

In Burma, where women are tragically still caught up in conflict, I’ll see firsthand how the UK is providing legal support to women who have suffered violence and hear about initiatives on women’s participation in local peace processes. I’ll also meet a range of government ministers and parliamentarians, including the inspiring Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

As ever, I’ll be blogging and tweeting throughout my visits to both countries so be sure to follow my updates on my website!

* Lynne Featherstone was the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green from 2005 to 2015, and served as a minister in both the Home Office and Department for International Development. She is now a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and blogs at

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  • Excellent stuff – well done Lynne!

  • suzanne fletcher 13th Jan '15 - 3:36pm

    good article and well done for following up, which does not happen often enough.
    I do hope that we can also ensure that women fleeing sexual violence from these and other countries, and flee to seek sanctuary in the UK, are treated properly as well.
    the Home Office staff whcih interview need to have much better training and support in such issues.
    Also to stop the culture of disbelief. When a woman who has been through this trauma arrives in the UK she is not going to be able to tell the full story of what happened immediatly. Just like women who are in the UK all the time, it is difficult to talk about, and takes confidence building with an interviewer and time for the full story to emerge. However because subsequent interviews do not give the same interview as the first they are often disbelieved and sent back to where they fled from.
    Also we should not be putting women who have been through this trauma into detention centres (we shouldn’t be doing that to anyone, but a good start would be women fleeing sexual violence, as well as pregnant mothers). Yarlswood, which is the women’s detention centre, has a lot of male staff, and it unacceptable women who have undergone sexual violence should be there.

  • Yet in this country women from those communities are still segregated and nothing said about it despite our equality laws. What is going on behind some of those closed doors and in those closed minds?

  • suzanne fletcher 15th Jan '15 - 7:43pm

    I would be surprised if women seeking refuge in the UK are segregated. they are either housed in separate rooms in houses that are for asylum seekers; or put with another womn they do not even have a common language with in the same room, or are in detention centres like Yarlswood where they have a separate cell, but women for all nations and are there for many reasons are together at meal times etc. those who are on suicide watch are watched by men whatever state they are in. any of them can be walked in on by male guards.
    yet our country appears not to care, it is happening on UK soil under our government.

  • suzanne fletcher 15th Jan '15 - 7:52pm
  • suzanne fletcher 17th Jan '15 - 3:38pm

    I’ve just read this
    which is a briefing to the Home Office on the contradiction in what we way about women in other countries and how we treat such women in the UK. I do hope Lynne can see this (or someone send it to her)

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