SOCIAL media may be driving the increase in domestic violence against women and girls as the number of prosecutions in England and Wales reached record levels in 2015/16.
The Crown Prosecution Service has published its annual account on violence against women, revealing that the number of offences reached 117,568, a rise of almost 10 per cent on last year’s figures.
A large chunk of the increase is due to new laws which make publishing sexual images without consent – also known as revenge porn – a criminal offence, and online stalking and harassment, which is fast becoming part and parcel of domestic abuse.
There were more than 12,000 cases of cyber stalking prosecuted last year, with the vast majority related to ongoing domestic violence cases as offenders make malevolent use of new technologies and perceived anonymity.
A key point raise by anti-violence campaigners is that offences including rape, sexual assault, child abuse and psychological violence are historically underreported, meaning that the real figures are expected to be vastly higher than even these record figures.
Some have, however, welcomed the news as indicative that more and more women are coming forward to report abuse, gaining confidence in a more transparent system that is seeing finally successful prosecutions.