Violence Against Women and Girls

The biggest risk factor for domestic and sexual abuse is to be female. Both women and men can experience abuse in their relationships, and within their families, but research shows that women and girls are much more likely to be affected, and with more repeat incidents.

Women and girls are also more likely to Statistic Walby & Allen 2004experience sexual abuse as well as more severe forms of violence, and at least two women are killed each week in England & Wales by male partners or ex-partners. Women are much more likely to be living in fear of a partner or ex-partner, in a controlling relationship, and having their lives severely limited by them.

At vida we work with a gendered understanding of domestic abuse, because we believe it is rooted in gender inequality. To illustrate this perspective, below we have taken recent headline figures from the 2010 Government Strategy Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls.

Domestic violence
More than one in four women in England and Wales (4.8 million) since aged 16 has experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse. Every year 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse – nearly 20,000 women a week. Of the 88% of young people in an intimate partner relationship, 33% of girls reported some form of sexual partner violence.
Sexual violence
3.7 million women in England and Wales have been sexually assaulted at some point  since the age of 16. Around 10,000 women are sexually assaulted, and 2,000 women are raped, every week. 34% of all rapes recorded by the police are committed against children under 16 years of age.
Trafficking for sexual exploitation
In 2003 there were up to 4,000 women trafficked for sexual exploitation in the UK.
20% of women say they have experienced stalking at some point since the age of 16.
Female genital mutilation
An estimated 66,000 women in England and Wales in 2001 had been subject to genital mutilation.
Forced marriage
In 2008 the Forced Marriage Unit received over 1600 calls to its helpline on suspected incidences of forced marriage (i.e. marriage without their consent, not arranged marriage with consent).
There are estimated to be around 80,000 people involved in prostitution in the UK. As well as being at risk of exploitation, they are particularly likely to be the victims of violent or sexual crime.
‘Honour’ crimes
There are no published statistics on numbers of ‘honour’ crimes in the UK, but it is widely quoted that there are around 12 honour murders a year.

These examples of violence against women and girls take place against a backdrop of social attitudes which also reinforce:

  • Sexualisation of girls and young women
  • Sexual bullying - including 'sexting' via mobiles and social networking
  • Enforcement of rigid gender roles