How do we make violence against women a thing of the past?

The words of Ghandi came to mind this week: on one of his visits to London he was asked what he thought of Western civilisation. He reportedly replied that he "looked forward to seeing it".

Yet again, the news this week has been overshadowed by reports of "industrial scale" abuse of young women, first in Rotherham and then Oxfordshire. The report published on Tuesday by the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board indicated that as many as 375 children, most of whom were female, may have been targeted for sex by a gang of men. It seems it was generally accepted that these young teenagers were having sex with adults, to the point that on occasions the girls were being picked up outside social services offices.

Are Rotherham and Oxfordshire the exceptions? Or are they just the tip of an iceberg that could have implications across the UK? I fear there is much more to come to the surface.

However, the grooming of children and young people for sex is part of a yet bigger picture of violence against women of all ages. On average in the UK, two women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Over the last four years 694 women were killed by men, and of these 46 per cent were killed by someone with whom they had a romantic relationship. The Femicide Census profiles these women and very movingly provides a role of honour, or perhaps more accurately a role of shame against society and particularly us men who are accommodating such an appalling situation. The most commonly used weapon to kill a woman is a knife, and the second is strangulation.

Has it always been like this? Or has something gone catastrophically wrong with how we conduct ourselves in the supposedly civilised United Kingdom?

I'm sure there is much more serious research to be done to discover just what's going on, and questions must be asked of those in authority, including police and social services, whereby at least in certain communities, abuse against women seems to have been ignored or on occasions simply written off as a 'domestic', and not taken too seriously.

But I simply can't make it other people's responsibility. What about me as a British male? What have I accepted? What have I failed to question? And what can I do? Is there a political party that I can vote for in the UK that will make an election commitment to address this issue? What about a newspaper or TV channel that will instigate a campaign that I can support? How do we make violence against women a thing of the past? While we are having the conversation let's make sure that we as a Church have our own house in order. Restored, a Christian charity which focuses on the issue of violence against women, is helping the Church to take seriously not just violence in society as a whole but making sure it's never acceptable in the family of God.

Steve Clifford is general director of the Evangelical Alliance.