Today (15th June 2022) the Mayor of London has released his new tackling violence against women and girls strategy for 2022-25.
Commitments to preventing VAWG
Following on the heels of this year’s Have a Word campaign, the Mayor’s strategy contains welcome focus on preventing male violence by shifting attitudes and behaviours so that women and girls do not become victims in the first place. This includes commitment to adopting the principles of the Istanbul Convention, which puts prevention at the heart of all work to end male violence against women and girls.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) has long called for long-term investment in meaningful prevention work. We recognise that work to shift public attitudes and behaviour and with young people in schools will do more to end violence against women and girls than solely responding after the harm has been done with a primary focus on the criminal justice system. This is why we have welcomed the Mayor’s Have a Word campaign along with the Home Office’s Enough! campaign as a step in the right direction.
We expect to see tangible commitments to long-term funding and delivery of vital prevention work, tied to specific actions and outcomes in order to demonstrate how well the strategy helps prevent violence against women and girls.
Support for migrant victims
We welcome the strategy’s commitments to ensuring all women’s rights and needs are met – particularly migrant women, who often feel unable to report experiences of abuse to the police due to risks of being treated as an immigration offender rather than a supported as a survivor, and potentially facing detention and removal from the UK. This leaves many fearing the police more than the perpetrator and trapped in abusive situations.
EVAW is united with our sisters in the #StepUpMigrantWomen campaign in calling for a firewall between immigration enforcement and frontline services, and safe reporting pathways for migrant survivors of abuse. We welcome the London VAWG strategy commitment to furthering this work but call for a firewall to be implemented in order to make a practical difference in migrant women’s lives.
Rebuilding trust and confidence in the Met Police
The strategy contains welcome focus on holding the Met Police and its next Commissioner to account for delivering the cultural change needed to help build women and girls’ confidence in the police. We are clear this will only start to happen with evidence that the Met are dealing with the institutional racism, sexism and misogyny in its ranks.
This is a vast problem evidenced by the appalling revelations of the last two years, including the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met Police officer, after which our polling found almost half of women have less trust in the police.
These systemic issues must be addressed by creating greater transparency and accountability in the Met, as well as radically overhauling the culture of policing – not just in London but in forces across the country.
Andrea Simon, Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
“We welcome the new strategy, which we hope will see ambitious commitments translated into action that makes a tangible difference in women and girls’ lives.
Violence against women is not inevitable and we’re particularly pleased to see the Mayor commit to adopting the principles of the Istanbul Convention, which puts prevention at the heart of all work to end male violence against women. Preventing women and girls from becoming victims in the first place will always be the best way to address this abuse, which is why we welcome long term attention to work with young people in schools and to shifting public attitudes and behaviour through communications work like the Have a word campaign.
We also welcome the strategy’s commitment to ensuring all victims’ rights and needs are met, including migrant women, where more needs to be done to ensure safe reporting pathways for victims and survivors to report abuse without fear of being detained or removed from the UK.
Demand for specialist women’s services in London has massively increased as a result of the Covid pandemic and will be significantly impacted by the cost of living crisis. It is therefore vital that this strategy provides sustainable funding for the lifesaving specialist services women rely on, including those run by and for Black and minoritised women, Deaf and disabled and other marginalised survivors of violence and abuse.”
Sinead Geoghegan, Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 07960 744 502