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Violence Against Women
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The TUC believes that violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of women’s inequality, that it has a serious impact on mental and physical health and is costly to the state and to the community in terms of criminal justice, health and other resources. Whether it is physical, psychological or sexual and whether it occurs in the home, in the workplace or within the wider community, violence devastates women’s life chances around the world. The TUC believes that gender based violence is a trade union priority and works to eliminate it both in the UK and internationally.
According to Government figures, domestic violence accounts for 15% of all recorded violent crime and results in 2 homicides a week. Women are the victims and men are the perpetrators in 4 out of 5 domestic homicides.
Domestic violence harms women and has a devastating impact on children in the family. The cost to public services such as the criminal justice system, housing, health and social services has been estimated to be around £23bn, and a cost to the economy of £2.7bn. At least 47,000 women report rape every year in the UK. Many rapes still go unreported and less than 6% of reported rapes result in a conviction, one of the lowest rates in Europe.
The TUC believes that violence against women and domestic violence is a trade union issue, and has conducted surveys of trade union members about their experiences of domestic violence. The results of the TUC’s work within the trade union movement and without have emphasised the need to take a broad approach to violence against women in order to be truly effective in tackling it, and the need to challenge violence both within the workplace as well as in the home. Affiliates and respondents to surveys have emphasised the need to educate young people about domestic violence and violence against women, and the need to use workplaces to disseminate information to domestic violence victims.
As a result of the findings of the survey, the TUC has produced a guide for employers and trade unions on tackling domestic violence as it impacts on the workplace, copies of which are available from TUC online shop
The TUC is also committed to working towards:
- A focus on preventing violence against women before, rather than after, its occurrence;
- Inclusion of tackling violence against women in the Government’s Public Service Agreements;
- The development and implementation of a strategic, cross-departmental approach to tackling violence against women in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the extension of the strategy on reserved matters to Scotland.
- Provision of long term, secure funding to support joined up services for vulnerable women and girls;
- Closure of service provision gaps experienced by certain groups, including BME women, women on low incomes, trafficked children, disabled women, women who live in rural areas and trans people;
- Service provision for those people in same sex relationships experiencing domestic violence;
- Use of the Gender Equality Duty to tackle violence against women;
- Awareness raising amongst employers of the impact of violence against women in the workplace and encouraging the provision of appropriate support, in consultation with trade unions.
End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW)
The TUC is an active member of End Violence Against Women (EVAW), a coalition made up of organisations tackling violence against women, alongside the Women’s National Commission, Amnesty International (UK) and the TUC.
As a member of the Coalition, the TUC identifies a broad focus on the issue of violence against women as the most effective and coherent way of tackling both domestic violence and other gender-based violence endured by girls and women. In the UK, violence includes, but is not restricted to domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, stalking, sexual harassment, forced marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, so called ‘honour’ crimes and killings, trafficking and forced prostitution. The TUC also plays an active part in EVAW’s ‘Making the Grade’ series which reports on the Government’s efforts to address violence against women in all its forms across all departments. Further information about EVAW and access to information and resources can be found on its website http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk
Reclaim the Night
The TUC is a supporter of ‘Reclaim the Night’, the national, annual march which affirms women’s rights to use public spaces without fear and raises awareness of the threat or reality of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment that women have to negotiate. Further information about the march can be found at the Reclaim the Night website www.reclaimthenight.org.
White Ribbon Day – 25 November
The TUC supports the work of the White Ribbon Campaign which works with football clubs to highlight the need to eliminate male violence against women. In 2008 the TUC marked the day by working with the Campaign and the PFA to commit the trade union movement to ending violence against women and bringing awareness of its message to new audiences. Further information about the work of the campaign is available at www.whiteribbonday.org.uk
Tackling violence against women takes a central place in the TUC’s international work. Violence against women restricts women’s life chances and opportunities around the world. In particular, violence against women is frequently used to suppress their political rights. The TUC works with trade unions around the world to support their ongoing struggles for human rights and women’s rights and has placed particular focus on Colombia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Violence against women is particularly acute in conflict zones where women and girls find themselves on the frontline. The TUC has been raising awareness of the devastating impact that conflicts can have on the educational opportunities and life chances of girls around the world through supporting the work of ‘Plan’ whose 2008 ‘State of the World’s Girls’ “State of the World’s Girls” report focuses on the plight of girls in conflict and post-conflict countries. Further details of this campaign can be found on www.becauseiamagirl.org.
The TUC also takes part in international work on violence against women as a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In 2008, the TUC took part in the 16 days of action against gender-based violence organised by the ITUC. The days of action affirmed that violence against women is a human rights violation and a leaflet entitled ‘Trade Unions say NO to Violence against Women and Girls”, containing ideas and support for trade unionists planning activities to mark this campaign can be downloaded from http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article2495&lang=en