Women scared to speak about domestic violence, bishop says

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Media captionEveryone must play a part in tackling gender-based violence, says Canon Joanna Penberthy

Women are still frightened to speak out against the domestic violence they have suffered, Wales' first female bishop has claimed.

Canon Joanna Penberthy is due to take up the post of Bishop of St Davids in the new year.

She told BBC Wales one of her priorities would be raising awareness of gender-based violence - 80% of which she said was committed against women.

She said legislation alone "won't be enough" and everyone must play a part.

Canon Penberthy told The Wales Report: "It's hard to believe that in 2016, domestic violence is widespread and women are frightened to speak out.

"Unfortunately it's still the case that a culture that sees abuse which happens behind closed doors is somehow acceptable. The phrase 'it's only a domestic' is still too often heard."

Canon Penberthy believes the Welsh Government's Violence Against Women Act has the potential to improve matters - but it was important for everyone to play a part, especially teachers, GPs, the police, council staff and the Church in Wales.

Rachel Williams from Welsh Women's Aid said her organisation's helpline took 29,000 calls from women last year.

She said some good work had been done on tackling domestic violence but much more had to be done, adding: "We're still walking around with blinkers on and we need to take the blinkers off."

According to data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, women are more likely to be victims than men, with 8.5 percent of women and 4.5 percent of men having experienced domestic abuse. Women are also much more likely to be high risk victims.

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