We use the term ‘violence against women and girls (VAWG)’ to cover domestic violence and abuse; rape and sexual violence; stalking; harmful traditional practices (including female genital mutilation (FGM); forced marriage; so-called ‘honour-based crimes’); sexual exploitation (including commercially through prostitution and the sex industry); and sexual harassment in the workplace and public sphere. The city has adopted this definition in recognition of the gender differences in the scale, incidence and effects of these crime types which indicate that women and girls experience them disproportionally, and for many cumulatively, during their lifetimes. They are a significant cause and consequence of gender inequality, and can impact on women’s ability to fully participate in employment, education and in local communities. However, we also recognise these crime types may affect different parts of our population in different ways. This includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people, and local Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. Adopting a ‘VAWG‘ approach also means we can understand what these crime types mean for men and boys. We will challenge the behaviour of men and boys who perpetrate violence and abuse. We will also take actions to support men and boys who experience or witness violence as abuse, as well as work with men as allies in challenging violence and abuse and helping to change the attitudes and actions of their peers.
Domestic violence and abuse in the city, as elsewhere, is widespread. According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales 2011/12, about one in fourteen women and one in twenty men aged 16 to 59 experienced domestic violence over the last year. Domestic abuse also harms children and young people. Three quarters of children living with domestic violence witness it and half are directly abused. Teenagers also experience it in their own relationships, and there are links between domestic abuse, youth offending and teenage pregnancy. It can cause significant health problems, including physical injury, self-harm, eating disorders, sexually transmitted infections, attempted suicide, depression, and anxiety and lead to alcohol and drugs misuse. If not prevented, domestic abuse often escalates in intensity and severity. Other consequences include poverty, unemployment and homelessness.
Sexual violence and abuse also have a devastating impact on victims and families and the cost to society as a whole is high. Effects can include long-lasting physical, mental and sexual health problems. These crimes are often carried out by someone the victim knows and can often occur in families where children and young people are the victims. Although men, women and children can all experience sexual violence and abuse, women are disproportionately affected; research tells us that women have a greater fear of rape or sexual assault than any other crime. Less than 10% of recorded rape cases nationally are a rape of a man, but research shows that men find it less easy to identify as victims and ask for help. There are associations with alcohol – local data show links to the night time economy both in terms of a city centre geographical hotspot and the time when peaks in offences occur.
While the other VAWG crime types can have a similar a range of acute impacts, our local information is lacking and we need to take steps to improve this.