What is violence against women?

Violence against women causes immense pain and suffering and is a major concern. The Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership brings agencies together to tackle such abuse.

Click on the links below to find out more:

Definition of violence against women

Violence against women is used to describe forms of violence which are mainly experienced by women and perpetrated by men. The Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership defines violence against women as including:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • Childhood sexual abuse (including incest)
  • Sexual harassment and intimidation at work and in public spaces
  • Prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation
  • Pornography
  • Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation
  • Dowry-related violence
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Forced marriage
  • Child marriages
  • Honour’ crimes

The partnership adopts a gender-based definition, understanding and analysis of violence against women.All members work with this definition and understanding of violence against women whilst they are acting as members of the partnership.

The partnership does not deny or minimise the use of violence against men or within same sex relationships. However, the use of a gender-based analysis acknowledges the historical context of violence against women within a society that affords greater status, power and control to men than it does to women.

Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership agrees with the Scottish Government definition set out in its 2009 policy paper Safer Lives, Changed Lives.

Who is affected?

Violence against women is very common.

Research shows that violence against women is widespread and can affect women of any age, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or ability. For example, it is estimated that:

  • between one in three and one in five women experiences some form of domestic abuse over a lifetime.
  • more than one in five women experience sexual assault as adults.
  • 66,000 women living in the UK have been subjected to female genital mutilation.

Women often experience at least one form of violence within their lifetime.

Children and young people are also affected by violence within their home or experienced by their mother or other female relatives. 21% of girls and 11% of boys have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Society as a whole is affected by such abuse. The health care costs of domestic abuse alone are estimated at £1.2 billion a year.

In Dundee:

  • 2,440 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to the police in 2011/12
  • In almost three quarters of all domestic abuse incidents which Tayside Police attended during 2009, there were concerns about the wellbeing of a child or young person in the household
  • In 2012, Dundee City Council Criminal Justice Service completed 83 Social Enquiry Reports concerning perpetrators of domestic abuse who had been convicted of a crime; 14 men went on to attend a specialist domestic abuse perpetrators programme
  • In 2009/10 there were 82 reported sexual offences against women over 16
  • In 2011/12, the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Dundee supported 161 women, 30 of whom had been raped and 21 sexually assaulted.
  • Dundee Women's Aid made 3,043 visits and appointments to women and 590 to children and young people in 2011/12. During this time, they received requests from 140 women and 86 children and young people for safe refuge.
  • Barnardo's Tayside Domestic Abuse Initiative Dundee project supported 125 women and 135 children in 2009
  • Throughout 2010, the Vice Versa Service, which supports women involved in street prostitution in Dundee, received 74 referrals about 47 women
  • 25 men were arrested/reported for loitering or soliciting for the purposes of obtaining a prostitute in 2009/2010

There is little local information about trafficking, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriages, dowry-related violence and ‘honour-based’ crimes. The partnership is working to find out more about prevalence in Dundee.

What do women experience?

Women experience considerable harm as a result of violence. Other factors in and circumstances of their lives can increase this harm. This includes young or older age; disability; poverty, homelessness and insecure immigration status. Ethnic minority women may experience additional barriers such as racism or difficulty in getting help because of unfamiliarity with language and culture. Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women may also experience barriers as a result of discriminatory attitudes and fear of the consequences of disclosing.

Various forms of abuse overlap and may involve:

  • Domestic abuse: perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner and may be physical, sexual and or emotional. It involves a pattern of coercive control escalating in frequency and severity over time.
  • Rape and sexual assault: unwanted or coercive sexual activity including anal, oral or vaginal penetration; often perpetrated by a man known to the victim.
  • Childhood sexual abuse: exploitation of a child/young person by an adult for their own or another’s sexual gratification; often involves serious and degrading assault. Organisations involved in the partnership focus on the needs of adult survivors of such abuse
  • Commercial sexual exploitation: includes prostitution, pornography, lap dancing and sex trafficking.
  • Stalking and harassment: unwanted, persistent and often threatening attention such as following someone, constant phoning or texting; often occurs in the context of domestic abuse.
  • Harmful traditional practices: includes female genital mutilation, forced marriage and ‘honour’ crimes which are culturally condoned as part of tradition.