New strategy to end violence against women and girls
Published: Thursday, March 24, 2022
Wandsworth has published its new three-year strategy to help prevent violence against women and girls.
The Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy 2022-2025 is the result of more than two years of discussions with local people and groups, and is informed by the experiences of survivors.
The four key priority areas aim to bring about a cultural shift leading to long-term change in men’s attitudes, ensure that agencies are able to identify and respond to abuse, provide appropriate safety and support for victims and tackle perpetrators.
It takes as its starting point the United Nations definition of violence against women incorporating a wide range of abusive behaviours including physical and sexual violence and abuse, controlling behaviour, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour crimes, stalking and trafficking.
Serious offences like these have a huge impact on the economy, health services and the criminal justice system as well as long-term damaging impacts on the children and adults who experience it.
In 2019 Wandsworth conducted a needs assessment to get a snapshot of the extent of the problem and what support is needed for victims. This showed that:
- Domestic abuse is generally under-reported, especially amongst people over 65
- The demand for services is likely to grow
- Young women and girls are over-represented as victims of domestic abuse
- There is a gap in knowledge around the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community
- There is a need to improve our understanding of harmful traditional practices
- More targeted services are needed to reach black and ethnic minority communities.
Workshops with survivors of domestic abuse revealed the importance of listening to and believing children, the importance of schools in prevention, the importance of communicating key concepts such as coercive control and the need for post-trauma support.
The new strategy places a ‘co-ordinated community response’ at its heart, which means working together with communities, local organisations and public bodies to address all forms of violence against women and girls.
The strategy includes a comprehensive action plan, including closer work with schools and colleges and development of a survivors’ forum and community forum for VAWG. It ensures there are pathways to practical and emotional support for survivors and also recognises that perpetrators are accountable for their behaviour, looking to develop a range of interventions according to the circumstances.
This strategy also implicitly recognises that men and boys may be victims of domestic abuse
The plans also include developing the response to address the challenges and fears of sexual assault and harassment in public, integrating work with the council’s evolving approach to the Night Time economy.
The council has already achieved two of the actions set out in the plan – it has received White Ribbon accreditation for its work to end male violence against women by engaging with men and boys, changing cultures and raising awareness, as well as the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance accreditation charter mark recognising its comprehensive and robust response to domestic abuse.
Wandsworth Council’s community safety spokesman and chairman of the Safer Neighbourhood Board Cllr Jonathan Cook (pictured right) said: “This new plan is very ambitious, and we have engaged very widely with victims, public sector partners and local people to ensure we get as full a picture as possible of what help is needed and by whom.
“Now it is time to deliver, and we are determined to work closely with our partners to achieve our goals. Through our strategy and action plan we will work hard to ensure the people who live in Wandsworth feel safe, listened-to and supported and that we take actions against physical and psychological violence.”