David Ruffley, MP, admitted this week that he has been given a police caution for common assault on a former partner, yet he continues to serve as an MP.
Ruffley has made a formal statement, through his lawyers, concluding with the final sentence: "I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances." Yet his statement refers to the events leading up to the police caution as an “inappropriate action”. This minimisation of domestic violence is simply not acceptable. Nor is domestic violence an “action”; it is a pattern of coercion and control that can involve physical and sexual violence.
My organisation, Ending Victimisation and Blame, was created to challenge victim blaming in domestic and sexual violence and abuse. Everyday we hear from women who have been the victims of domestic violence and who are fighting to be taken seriously. According to a recent EU study, 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence during their lifetime. Male perpetrators of domestic violence kill 2 women every week in the UK. 9 out of 10 cases of domestic violence are never prosecuted. Domestic violence costs the UK £5.5 billion every year. This is the reality of domestic violence.
MPs are there to fight for the rights of some of the most vulnerable in society. They must be held to a high standard. Even the Dean of David Ruffley's local cathedral agrees and has written to say David Ruffley's position in parliament is "untenable".
His local Conservative Party are meeting in the next week to discuss the issue. They must take a stand to show that domestic violence is never acceptable. However, we don’t simply want the Conservative Party to remove the party whip from Ruffley or to deselect him. We want Ruffley to resign from Parliament.
We have been campaigning to have all politicians, at local, county, national and international levels, undergo specialist training in domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
We cannot have perpetrators of violence against women representing us in Parliament. If Ruffley truly understands the impact of domestic violence, then he must resign from Parliament.