Violence against women and girls

vawgWhat is violence against women and girls (VAWG)?

Violence against women and girls is both a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights. The United Nations Declaration on Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as:

‘Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women [or girls], including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.’ (1993, Article 1)

This includes a wide range of abusive behaviours including physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is abuse that is targeted at women or girls because of their gender and it affects women and girls disproportionately but men can be abused too. It is important that VAWG is not seen as a series of incidents or assaults which a woman or girl experiences, but as a pattern of violent or controlling behaviour that seeks to achieve power and control over them. VAWG has a very big impact on the physical safety, health and emotional well-being of individuals, and impacts on families, carers, children and the community as a whole.

Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of economic status, gender, ethnicity, faith, sexuality or age. Although we recognise that that the issues in this plan have a disproportionate effect on women (97 per cent of victims of abuse in Tower Hamlets are women), we also recognise that boys and men are victims of violence too.

VAWG strands covered by Tower Hamlets

What is our plan for tackling VAWG in Tower Hamlets?

Tower Hamlets have had a VAWG Action Plan since January 2013. The plan covers the borough's commitment to addressing all gender-specific abuse. In 2019 we have refreshed our VAWG Strategy, which runs until 2024. We ran a public consultation with residents and professionals working in the borough to help inform this strategy.

The 2019-2024 Strategy directly informs our VAWG Action Plan which has three priorities:

  1. support and protection for victims
  2. bringing offenders to justice
  3. educating communities and challenging gender-based discrimination (misogyny).

Tackling violence against women and girls is already recognised as a priority area internationally, nationally and regionally. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women was adopted by the General Assembly in 1993. In 2010, the Mayor of London published ‘The Way Forward’, a London-wide plan to end all forms of violence against women in the capital. The Mayor has also published an updated VAWG Plan from 2013-2017, which seeks to make London a global pioneer in tackling all forms of VAWG. The coalition government has published its ‘Call to end violence against women and girls’ (2011), which outlines the clear responsibility of local authorities to co-ordinate their response to VAWG issues within their local areas and their action plans are updated annually.

Locally, there are already many reasons why it is important for us to develop a strong approach to these issues, including:

  • a strong, local approach
  • decreased prevalence
  • better safeguarding
  • improved gender equality.

How to become a VAWG Champion

Throughout the year we offer a two-day training course for professionals to become a Violence Against Women and Girls Champions. This covers all the VAWG strands and will raise knowledge and awareness as well as creating a means to address VAWG within your own professional context.

VAWG Champions will be given a comprehensive manual as well as training resources that can be used to cascade learning. Each Champion will also be given information resources - posters, leaflets and booklets to help them speak to their agency or the community. There will also be quarterly Champions networking events with guest speakers and updates on policies and information regarding VAWG.

You must attend Day 1 and Day 2 to become a VAWG Champion. For more information on becoming a VAWG Champion please email vawg@towerhamlets.gov.uk for an application form.

Useful documents and contact information

For further information on all of our VAWG work, email: vawg@towerhamlets.gov.uk.