Article by Rachel Jewkes on the relationship between poverty and IPV

The open democracy website has published an article by Rachel Jewkes that highlights the interaction between poverty and IPV. She points to projects in Tajikistan and South Africa aimed at providing women and girls with the means to start businesses to ease family poverty or delay dating – which have led to positive outcomes reducing the risk of IPV.

Rachel has led research on violence against women at the South African Medical Research Council for over two decades. She is the director of the UK Department for International Development-funded “What works to prevent violence against women and girls?” global programme.

Through the course of the programme, the percentage of women reporting intimate partner violence halved. Food insecurity for women reduced by two-thirds, and the proportion of women earning money increased fourfold. Meanwhile, reports of depression in women nearly halved and depression in men more than halved.

You can access the article here.

Abusive men are using immigration fears to control women

End Violence Against Women Coalition have identified that insecure immigration status can stop women reporting violent and sexual crimes to the police. This is particularly true for women with insecure immigration status or for those who are reliant on a spousal visa as they are more likely to be fearful of deportation.

Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition (Evaw), said: “The public are rightly outraged by the devastating impact the hostile environment immigration policy has had on the lives of the Windrush generation. The same policy is also leaving many women at risk of violence and exploitation, scaring them away from seeking help and making it harder for them to access life-saving services.”

Many migrant women, including victims of trafficking, as well as asylum seekers and those with work visas, student visas or visas connected to their spouse, also have no access to public funds and are therefore prevented from using refuges.

The Guardian article is available here.

End Violence Against Women (EVAW) call for responses to the UK government Violence and Abuse Bill Consultation

The End Violence Against Women Coalition is a UK-wide coalition of more than 70 women’s organisations and others working to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all its forms, including: sexual violence, domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, FGM, stalking and harassment.

EVAW has drafted a response to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill Consultation and is calling other contributors to read their response complete their own response or send suggestions to them to contribute to their working document.  The submission date is 31 May 2018. EVAW accept the consultation document is long and stress it is not necessary to complete every question. You can access their call to action here.

Their draft response to the consultation includes a short Executive Summary which will be enclose with the submission and will cover key points about overall disappointment at the ‘narrow offer’ being made. This includes the lack of commitment to guaranteed protection and advocacy for women despite the drive to increase reports to police. They also urge a broader role for the new Commissioner in this area. EVAW also identified it is important that the Government provides a strong response on questions related to the following areas:  the domestic violence definition; relationships education; women offenders; the ‘no recourse’ question concerning women with insecure immigration status (number 15); work with perpetrators; the Istanbul Convention (question 50); and the proposed new commissioner (question 59 & 60).

You can access the draft submission for the consultation here.

You can get in touch and suggest changes to EVAW here.

Protests about legal outcome of gang rape in Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands took the streets in Madrid to protest over the gang rape ‘Wolf pack’ case. A court acquitted five men of gang rape charges. The rape took place during a bull running festival last year. The protests are because the men only received a 9 year sentence between them and fines, their charges were reduced to sexual abuse rather than rape.  The prosecution had been pushing for a 20 years worth of sentence due to the gravity of the case.

According to a police report, the men promised to walk the woman to her car and then surrounded her and forcibly removed her clothes and had unprotected sex. Some of the men filmed the rape and posted footage on a Wattsapp group bragging about their conquest and sharing the videos. They also stole her phone.  Many argue that if she had consented as the men  claimed they would not have stolen her phone afterwards.  Altamira Gonzalo, vice-president of Themis, a Spanish organisation of women jurists, told Efe news agency: “It should have been a courageous sentence. The courts can’t be so distant from society.”

 Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez tweeted his outrage  “If what the ‘wolfpack’ did wasn’t group violence against a defenceless woman, then what do we understand by rape?”

You can read more about the coverage of this story in The Guardian here. 

Article published in The Guardian commenting on the impact of economic abuse for women and children

 

 

 

 

The Guardian has published an article this week highlighting the far reaching implications of economic abuse. The journalist Louise Tickle focuses on the long term impact economic abuse can have many years after a relationship has ended. She points to how partners can maliciously destroy property resulting in unexpected costs which cannot then be met by victims. It highlights how some abusive partners send damning emails to landlords or employers stifling opportunities to rent property or start a new job. Other cases have come to light which included partners contacting colleges or universities claiming damaging criminal behaviour such as child abuse or criminal activity. This may result in delays to completing courses or women leaving to avoid confrontation.  Additionally, victims may be forced to commit fraud or build up debts destroying future credit ratings. Economic abuse can be seen as another facet of controlling behaviour preventing victims from gaining independence and stifling chances of escape.  The article can be accessed here.

Charities such as Surviving Economic Abuse believe that economic abuse needs tighter regulation in the UK and some call for financial compensation for victims of these types of behaviours saying this should be paid for by the perpetrators themselves.

The UK Government’s UK, 2017 Drug Strategy

The stated aim of the UK Government’s 2017 Drug Strategy is to “build a safer, healthier society: one that works for everyone.” Furthermore to, “to improve life chances and protect the most vulnerable.” The government hopes to achieve these key aims by cross-government working and engaging those from the drugs field, health and criminal justice setting including specialists from academia, practitioners and service users.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) and abuse has been given a particular remit within the 2017 drug strategy – to explore links between substance misuse and IPV, with a view to producing innovative approaches to working with both victims and perpetrators to reduce the offending behaviour and the substance misuse. The need to support those families where domestic violence features, is also recognised. In particular, The Troubled Families Programme has been expanded to include supporting family members where domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems are prevalent.

A copy of the 2017 Drugs Strategy can be downloaded here.

 

 

International Women’s Day 2018 – 8th March

 

 

The Centre for Violence Prevention Institute of Health and Society based at the University of Worcester are a group of multi agency professionals (police, nurses, social work, specialist domestic abuse workers and counsellors) training together to address domestic abuse.  This photo was taken to promote international women’s day (IWD). Find out more about their training events, publications and conference here

March 8 sees the annual IWD campaign theme kick off for the year ahead, although many groups around the world adopt and promote the campaign theme from early in the year. The IWD campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize collective action. Throughout the year many groups worldwide adopt the IWD campaign theme for further campaign work, gender-focused initiatives, continuing activity and events. A great example of this was in 2017 when the USA Women’s Hockey Team went on to adopt the #BeBoldForChange IWD campaign theme.

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day successful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist  once said  “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Started by the Suffragettes in the early 1900’s, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. International Women’s Day belongs to all communities everywhere – governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and more. Whether through a global conference, community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation – everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender parity.

You can find out more on how to get involved on the IWD website here.

 

 

UK home secretary has revealed a number of proposals regarding treating survivors of DV in court

The UK home secretary Amber Rudd proposed in February 2018 a series of proposals to aid the treatment of domestic violence survivors in court. One measure seeks to make it automatic that victims of domestic violence will be eligible to give evidence behind a screen (to prevent them having to face their abusers).

Some DV charities such as Women’s Aid have welcomed the measures but highlight that domestic abuse survivors are still being subjected to the “abhorrent practice” of being interrogated by their abusers within the family courts. Katie Ghose, the chief executive of Women’s Aid, commented  “We know that the cross-examination of victims in the family courts by their abusive former partner is far too common.’

The practice of abusers being permitted to question their partners was originally going to be prevented under the prisons and courts bill. However, this was side-lined when Theresa May called a general election.

Rudd’s proposals will form part of a consultation on what to include in the Domestic Abuse Bill. Amber Rudd commented on the consultation in the Times saying:

“It [the consultation] will ask how we can improve our response in the home, in the community, in the courtroom, through to public services, accommodation for women fleeing their abuser, as well as how we can strengthen our laws to stop perpetrators and when possible rehabilitate them.’

The new bill is described here.

However, there is an overhaul proposed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which includes plans to remove refuges and other forms of short-term supported housing from the welfare system. It is suggested this will result in vulnerable women fleeing abusive partners being unable to pay for their accommodation using their housing benefit. To put this in perspective on average housing benefit makes up 53% of refuge funding.  It is anticipated the impact will be far reaching if these proposals go ahead.

Respect launch revised standards framework designed to ensure safe, effective, accountable work with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse

 

Respect is the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims of domestic violence and young people’s violence in close relationships. In 2015-16, it was estimated that 2 million adults aged 16 to 59 were victims of domestic violence in England and Wales alone, with 1.03 million domestic abuse related incidents recorded by the police during the year. Domestic abuse-related crimes now account for 1 in 10 of all criminal offences. Respect believes every local area should offer comprehensive specialist support services for survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

CEO of RESPECT Jo Todd explains:

“Survivors deserve more than support; they need to know that agencies are working together to deal with perpetrators effectively. That means providing opportunities for perpetrators to change, but it also means holding them to account and taking steps to disrupt and prevent future violence and abuse.”

Respect have published the third edition of The Respect Standard an evidence based framework which sets out criteria for working safely and effectively with perpetrators of DVA including integrated support services. First published in 2008 the Respect Standard is regularly revised to ensure it is reflective of current practice and emerging evidence. The third edition of The Standard encompasses all work carried out with perpetrators including: early interventions, behaviour change programmes, high intensity case management and disruption activities. It aims to covers the whole cohort of perpetrators: whether they be in straight or in same sex relationships, motivated to change or not. The third edition also allows services who offer interventions with people with different levels of risk and need to apply for accreditation.

Achieving Respect accreditation enables organisations to evidence their good practice and remain accountable to stakeholders via a robust and thorough full scrutiny audit which carried out by expert assessors. To ensure that all services meet or exceed quality standards in management, intervention delivery, diversity and equality and multiagency work this audit consists of a desk top review, site visits, dip sampling of client work videos and interviews with staff and stakeholders. It is underpinned by 10 core principles including ‘do no harm’, ‘gender matters’, ‘safety first’ and ‘sustainable change’.

The official launch event took place at the House of Commons and was hosted by Thangam Debonnaire MP and attended by 60 invited guests, including specialists in the field of domestic violence and abuse and parliamentarians with an interest in this vital area of work.

Sarah Newton MP writes in the introduction that the framework:

‘focuses on perpetrator interventions, and makes sure they are delivered professionally and competently and are effective in reducing harm. Most importantly, the Standard ensures that further harm is not inflicted on survivors or their children, something which is vital if we are to ensure support and safety for the survivor and help them move on with their lives.’

To download a copy of the framework and the accompanying outcome framework please visit the Respect Website here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Bill has been passed in the Scottish parliament against controlling behaviour

The Scottish Parliament passed a bill on the 1st February 2018 making it an offence to engage in behaviour that is:

  • abusive towards a partner or ex-partner
  • likely to cause the partner/ex-partner to suffer physical or psychological harm
  • intending the course of behaviour to cause harm or was reckless

The bill also provides for some changes to criminal procedure, evidence and sentencing in domestic abuse cases. Existing offences such as assault could still be cited where a case of abuse is not covered by the proposed offence (e.g. where a single incident rather than a course of behaviour is prosecuted). The bill includes a good range of definitions of abusive behaviours, for example, it explicitly includes sexual violence and provides a definition of psychological harm. The bill also addresses a gap as there is known difficulty in disclosing sexual violence within relationships.

There have been suggestions relating to strengthening the laws further:

  1. The documented use of manipulation and ‘gas lighting’ techniques used by an abuser to convince their partner that they are insane could be covered by further legislation.
  2. The defence of reasonableness needs greater definition, this section of the bill implied that the onus is on the prosecution to prove that the behaviour was not reasonable beyond reasonable doubt.
  3. Additional prosecutions for perpetrators if there are grounds for child abuse charges.
  4. Training will be needed to help those involved in investigation and prosecution of the offence understand the range of behaviours and controlling relationships.
  5. It is more likely the complainant feels s/he is no longer in a relationship whilst the accused is continuing to believe they are. Therefore if an ex-partner or a potential ‘victim’ of this offence wants to challenge the relationship status, it could mean they cannot access the protection of this law.

You can access an article discussing the implications for training the Scottish police here.

More information on the BBC news website is available here. 

Many thanks to Professor Liz Gilchrist and Professor Erica Bowan for their contributions to this post.