Tackling Violence Against Women & Girls: An Analysis of the VAWG Strategy

Jordaine Minchin
February 6, 2024

In recent years, the issue of violence against women and girls (VAWG) has gained significant attention globally, prompting governments and organisations to take decisive action. In the United Kingdom (UK), addressing VAWG remains a critical priority, with efforts spanning legislative measures, policy initiatives, and grassroots activism. This blog explores the multifaceted approach taken by the UK government through its VAWG Strategy. The discussion highlights key strategies, challenges, and ongoing debates surrounding this comprehensive effort.

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Understanding the Scope of the Issue

Violence against women and girls encompasses a wide range of harmful behaviours, including domestic abuse, sexual violence, harassment, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. These forms of violence can have devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences for survivors, perpetuating cycles of trauma and inequality.

Legislative Framework and Policy Responses

The UK has enacted various laws and policies aimed at combating VAWG and supporting survivors. The landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021 represents a significant step forward, introducing new protections and provisions to address domestic abuse in all its forms. Key provisions include the establishment of a Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Order scheme, criminalising non-fatal strangulation, and extending support to victims regardless of their immigration status.

Additionally, the government has launched initiatives such as the VAWG Strategy, which outlines a comprehensive approach to preventing and responding to Violence Against Women and Girls. This strategy encompasses prevention efforts, support services for survivors, law enforcement responses, and efforts to change societal attitudes and behaviours.

Challenges and Gaps in the Response

Despite progress in legislative and policy frameworks, challenges persist in effectively addressing VAWG. One significant issue is the underreporting of incidents, with many survivors hesitant to come forward due to fear, stigma, or lack of trust in the criminal justice system. Improving access to support services and fostering a culture of belief and empowerment for survivors are crucial aspects of overcoming this barrier.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the adequacy of resources allocated to VAWG services, including refuge spaces, counselling, and legal aid. Budget cuts and funding constraints have strained the capacity of frontline organisations, leading to gaps in service provision and longer wait times for support. Addressing these resource challenges requires sustained investment and a commitment to prioritising VAWG as a public health and human rights issue.

Intersectionality and Marginalised Groups

An intersectional approach to addressing VAWG acknowledges the intersecting factors of race, ethnicity, class, disability, sexuality, and other identities that shape individuals' experiences of violence and discrimination. Marginalised groups, including Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) women, LGBTQ+ individuals, disabled women, and migrant women, face unique barriers to accessing support and justice.

Efforts to tackle VAWG must therefore be inclusive and responsive to the diverse needs of all survivors, ensuring that services are culturally competent, language-accessible, and sensitive to intersecting forms of discrimination. This requires engaging with communities, amplifying marginalised voices, and addressing systemic inequalities that perpetuate violence and injustice.

Prevention and Education

Preventing VAWG requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond responding to incidents after they occur. Education plays a crucial role in challenging harmful attitudes and behaviours, promoting gender equality, and fostering healthy relationships from an early age. Incorporating comprehensive sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools, training professionals to recognise and respond to warning signs of abuse, and engaging men and boys as allies in prevention efforts are all essential strategies.

Conclusion: Towards a Future Free from Violence

Tackling violence against women and girls is a complex and ongoing endeavour that demands collective action, political will, and societal change. While progress has been made in strengthening legal protections, enhancing support services, and raising awareness, much work remains to be done to eradicate VAWG in all its forms.

As we look towards the future, it is essential to centre survivors' voices, uphold their rights, and work collaboratively across sectors to build a society where every individual can live free from fear and violence. By prioritising prevention, investing in support services, and challenging ingrained inequalities, we can create a safer and more equitable world for women and girls everywhere.

Join us for Modernising Criminal Justice 2024 on the 6th of June at the QEII Conference Centre in London. The event brings together the complete justice system, from arrest through to release.

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