§ Ms. Harman
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what steps he will take to implement paragraph 231 of the United Nations Nairobi forward-looking strategies for women;
(2) what steps he is taking following the United Nations Nairobi forward-looking strategies for women to establish national machinery to deal with violence against women, and to provide institutionalised forms of assistance to women victims.
§ Mr. Waddington
Paragraph 231 of the Nairobi declaration is concerned with violence against women and children. My right hon. Friend's primary responsibility in this connection is for the adequacy of the criminal law. There is a substantial body of law dealing with violent crime and the protection of women and children from unwanted sexual attention. During the past decade, much has been done to improve the law in this area; most recently, the Sexual Offences Act 1985 increased the maximum penalties for attempted rape to life imprisonment and for indecent assault on a female to ten years. We shall continue to keep the adequacy of the law under review.
Compensation is available from public funds to innocent victims of violent crime, who may also obtain advice and guidance from victim support schemes and, in cases of rape, from rape crisis centres. These voluntary schemes receive a measure of financial assistance from central and local government in various forms.