Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls: An Update on the VAWG Strategy

Evelyn Woodland
December 20, 2022

The Violence Against Women strategy is a UK government initiative established to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls. It is a multi-agency approach, involving local authorities, health services, education services and law enforcement.

stop violence against women

Created in 2021, the strategy is built on five key areas: prevention, protection, prosecution, partnerships and research. This article takes a deeper look at each of these areas and provides an update on how the strategy has progressed. 

Prevention

Prevention strategies focus on raising awareness of violence against women and encouraging active social participation to challenge attitudes that condone or tolerate gender-based violence. This includes initiatives such as public campaigns, education and training and community-based interventions.

On 1st March 2022, the government launched a new public campaign called ‘ENOUGH’. The campaign aims to prevent violence against women and girls by shaping the attitudes that normalise and tolerate different types of abuse. 

It also guides the public on getting support if they're experiencing abuse and reporting an incident to the police. 

Protection

The strategy incorporates a range of measures to protect victims, including providing legal aid, specialist domestic violence courts and improved access to secure, safe housing.

This element of the strategy also includes dedicated specialist services and support for victims, including refuges, helplines and outreach services. These services provide victims with a safe, non-judgmental space to access help and advice.

This advice comes in the form of practical support, such as emergency accommodation and assistance in accessing legal advice. The strategy also includes new domestic abuse protection orders, which aim to prevent perpetrators from contacting their victims and require them to take positive and responsible steps to change their behaviour.

Prosecution

Prosecution is a vital component of the UK’s violence against women strategy. It's designed to ensure that those responsible for violence against women and girls are brought to justice. This approach is based on the principle that those who commit such acts must be held accountable for their actions.

In the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for prosecuting all cases of violence against women and girls. The CPS works closely with the police and other stakeholders to ensure matters are dealt with promptly and effectively.

So far, the government has introduced a range of new prosecution measures, including:

  • Raising the maximum penalties for stalking and harassment.
  • Ended the automatic early release of violent and sexual offenders from prison.
  • Introduced new orders for stalking, preventing sexual harm, and female genital mutilation to better protect victims and those at risk.

Partnerships


The strategy is based on a partnership between the government, law enforcement, service providers and civil society. Each of them must work collaboratively for the initiative to have maximum effect.

Here’s how each partnership contributes to the overall success of the strategy:

  • The government provides the overall vision and resources to tackle the issue. This includes developing legislation, providing financial support and launching public awareness campaigns.
  • Law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing the laws and ensuring perpetrators are brought to justice. 
  • Service providers, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, are essential for providing support to victims.
  • Civil society actors such as charities and grassroots organisations are responsible for raising awareness and advocating for change.

Together, these partners work towards a shared goal: to reduce violence against women and girls. The government provides the framework, law enforcement enforces the laws, service providers support victims and civil society raises awareness. This integrated approach is essential for tackling the issue and protecting vulnerable groups.

Research

The overarching strategy works to address the issue of violence against women by researching and understanding the causes of violence and developing initiatives that can be used to prevent it.

A dedicated body of research called the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence has been established to research the causes of domestic and sexual violence. 

This Commission works with key stakeholders such as charities, survivors and experts to identify the causes of violence against women and to develop strategies to tackle them, which is how campaigns like ‘ENOUGH’ are created.

Many positive steps have been taken to tackle violence against women and girls in England and Wales. But there's still work to do to ensure we continue prioritising the safety of women and girls.