Women’s Aid respond to government’s Violence against Women and Girls strategy
Women’s Aid has issued our response to the government’s Violence against Women and Girls Strategy, which has been published today.
Lucy Hadley, Women’s Aid Head of Policy & Campaigns said:
“Women’s Aid welcomes the government’s ambition to improve protection and support for women and girls, but we remain seriously concerned about the decision to separate domestic abuse from the new Violence Against Women and Girls strategy. Disconnecting the two is a backward step and offers little reassurance that the government’s VAWG strategy will protect women ‘wherever they are’. Women’s experiences of violence and abuse are interconnected, and the strategy needs to respond to this. This is particularly vital for Black and minoritised women, who disproportionately experience so-called ‘honour based’ abuse, forced marriage and FGM which are covered in this VAWG strategy – but very often experience them in a domestic setting. The separation could push back progress in understanding how women experience these crimes, and prevent women from getting the help and specialist support they need.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a crisis of global proportions, driven by sexism and women’s inequality in society. We require urgent action to tackle the attitudes and behaviours that drive male violence. We are encouraged by the government’s commitment to ‘radical’ reform, and a major new public awareness campaign to drive behaviour change, however this is not the same as a ‘whole system response’ to women’s experiences of violence and abuse. We need all parts of government to be held accountable for ending all forms of VAWG – from schools to health services, the police to transport, business, housing and many more.
Most urgently, we need the government to deliver sustainable funding for specialist women’s services. The strategy rightly recognises that they are vital. But the strategy is only accompanied by small, piecemeal pots of money – after a year when specialist women’s services have been pushed to the brink as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Women’s Aid estimates that £393 million is required to securely fund specialist women’s domestic abuse services in England, including ring-fenced funding for specialist services led by and for Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled women, and LGBT+ survivors. We urgently need the Treasury to deliver on this in the forthcoming spending review.”