The Government has today pledged £1 million to support women rape victims following a plea by two charities for emergency funding.
The announcement by Minister for Women Harriet Harman comes after the Women's Resource Centre and Rape Crisis (England and Wales) called for an emergency £5 million investment to support victims of sexual violence.
The charities yesterday accused the Government of failing rape victims amid the closure of nine support centres and leaving those that remain "spectacularly" under-funded. They claimed that statutory agencies refuse to fund them because they are women-only, or pressure them to deliver services to men.
Ms Harman said the £1 million, drawn from across Government departments, is aimed at keeping a number of Rape Crisis centres open. She said: "Rape Crisis (England and Wales) has done an important job in alerting us to the funding challenges faced at a local level by these rape crisis centres.
"We've stepped in with this emergency funding to help stop them from closing, while we sort out the longer term."
She added: "Rape is one of the most devastating offences for victims. It violates the basic right of women, men and children to be treated with dignity and respect."
On Monday Ms Harman visited the Haven, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Camberwell, south London, to see the support offered to victims.
Government figures show there were more than 13,000 recorded rapes in England and Wales last year, but many go unreported.
The funding comes in addition to the £1 million announced on International Women's Day by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to tackle both domestic and sexual violence.
In the last five years, nine Rape Crisis centres have closed in England and Wales with 69% of those remaining saying their funding is unsustainable, and the ongoing struggle to access funding was affecting their ability to continue providing services.