Wales

Shooting victim in domestic violence school lessons row

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Media captionRachel Williams says politicians should see the damage of domestic violence

A woman whose son was found dead weeks after she was shot by her estranged husband wants domestic violence issues taught in all schools by law.

Rachel Williams was shot at a Newport hairdressing salon in 2011, after which husband Darren, 46, killed himself. Her son Jack, 16, was later found hanged.

But the Violence against Women Bill could fail in the Senedd because a duty on schools is not included.

Ms Williams said: "If you're taught respect and love you can't go wrong."

She wants the issues to be explored in workshops and assemblies in schools, as well as being part of some lessons.

"It might not be a subject like maths and English, it's your daily living. It's about respecting not just your partner but people in general," she said.

"You should be taught to take people's feelings into consideration and that this is the norm - as opposed to battering your girlfriend or getting spat at or talked to like a piece of dirt, as happened to me".

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Ms Williams suffered domestic abuse for 18 years, starting when she was seven months pregnant.

She finally left her husband and filed for divorce but he came to the salon where she worked armed with a sawn-off shotgun. She was shot in the knee and two customers were also injured.

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Media captionJocelyn Davies AM said the missing part of the Bill was 'fundamental'

Ms Williams is concerned that a proposal to teach issues around violence against women in schools is missing from new legislation.

It was described by Welsh government ministers at the time as "ground-breaking."

But when the Bill was introduced in the Assembly last summer, the education proposals were removed.

Now, opposition parties have told BBC Wales that unless these proposals are returned to the Bill, they will no longer support it.

Because Labour does not have an overall majority in the assembly, that would mean the Bill would not become law.

Image caption Hundreds of pupils were asked to write why they wanted healthy relationships education

Jocelyn Davies AM is Plaid Cymru's spokeswoman on domestic abuse and chairwoman of an all-party group on the issue.

She said having "champions" for each council was not the same as all schools being duty-bound to teach healthy relationships and respect, which had been "universally welcomed" when first proposed.

"Once we saw the Bill and it wasn't in there and we were very disappointed," she said.

"I don't see the Bill achieving what it set out to achieve without it. Unless there's a change in attitude by the government I can't see me supporting the Bill."

A Welsh government spokesman said the Bill had been "significantly strengthened" since its introduction, including in relation to education.

An amendment has been added to ensure awareness raising around violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is focused on changing attitudes.

"We have also introduced powers to require schools to report on the steps they are taking and tabled amendments to include powers to issue guidance to higher and further education institutions regarding their work in addressing this problem," he said.

"The minister is still considering what is possible in terms of additional education amendments to the Bill. Stage three is not yet complete and discussions are ongoing."

Pupils in schools are sending special Valentine's cards with messages to the Senedd urging a change of heart by ministers.

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