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What is Primary Prevention?

 

 

Violence against women in Scotland

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is an intolerable injustice in Scotland, preventing our society from being as safe, healthy and successful as it could be, and costs Scotland £4 billion.1

VAWG remains:

  • Prevalent within Scotland - In 2018-19 there were 60,641 domestic abuse incidents recorded by Police Scotland, with women making up 84% of the victims2. In the same year, there were 13,547 sexual crimes, including rape and attempted rape, reported to Police Scotland, representing a 114% increase over the last 10 years. 3
  • Caused by women’s inequality - VAWG is caused by the unequal power relations, patriarchal norms and toxic masculinity that damage all genders. These factors manifest as unequal access to economic, social and political power, objectification of women and unequal distribution of caring responsibilities.
  • Exacerbated by COVID-19 – Initial research has indicated that globally, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s during the COVID-19 crisis. Women make up 39% of global employment but have accounted for 53% of overall job losses. 4 Research has also indicated an increase in the unpaid care provided by women to children, older people or disabled people. 5
  • Exacerbated by other forms of inequality - Disabled women are twice as likely to experience men’s violence as non-disabled women. 6 83% of trans women have experienced hate crime at some point in their lives. 7 Ethnic minority and migrant women face higher levels of domestic homicide and abuse-driven suicide. 8
  • On a continuum – VAWG exists in a complex and interlinked range of experiences, from harassment and abuse to violation and assault. 9
  • Preventable - In challenging gender inequality by changing social attitudes, values and structures, we can end VAWG.

What is Primary Prevention?

Primary prevention tackles gender equality in order to eradicate VAWG. It is a long-term strategy to prevent violence from ever happening by challenging the attitudes, values and structures that sustain it.10

Primary prevention should work on many levels: with individuals, small groups, schools, workplaces, whole communities, governments, laws and policies.

Our Watch outline five essential actions to address the cause of VAWG.11

These five actions are:

  • challenge the condoning of violence against women;
  • promote women’s independence and decision-making in public life and relationships;
  • foster positive personal identities and challenge gender stereotypes and roles;
  • strengthen positive, equal and respectful relations between and among women and men, girls and boys;
  • promote and normalise gender equality in public and private life.

Effective primary prevention needs to consider that violence against women with disabilities, women who sell sex, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women, and ethnic minority women is informed and exacerbated by other forms of oppression, leaving these women especially vulnerable to violence.

It should also recognise that gender inequality cannot be separated from other forms of inequality,12 and should work through partnerships and coalitions to build coordinated challenges to gender inequality, racism, ableism, ageism, classism, homophobia and transphobia.

Why Primary Prevention?

VAWG is extremely harmful to women and children. It can cause severe and long-lasting physical and mental health problems, reduced participation in the workforce, substance abuse and death.

We must be ready to respond to VAWG when it happens, but we should also be working to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Similarly to how we seek to prevent a medical epidemic through preventative measures such as vaccination programmes and sanitation plans, violence against women can be prevented by changing the attitudes and culture that permit violence to occur.

Primary prevention is a more efficient use of resources than dealing with the many serious, long-term consequences of violence which cost the Scottish public purse £4 billion.13

What Does Zero Tolerance Do?

Zero Tolerance is a national campaigning organisation working to prevent all forms of VAWG. We do this through raising public and political awareness of the causes of VAWG and promoting action on prevention. Our policy and campaign work focus on mainstreaming gender equality, specifically with children and young people, and in the media. We also work directly with key sectors, organisations and individuals to develop their skills, capacity, and understanding regarding the prevention of VAWG.

Why is Primary prevention so important now?

The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures have impacted all people in the UK, but initial research has indicated that they have had a particular and significant impact on women and girls 14 , and that women and girls who are already marginalised have been affected in additional ways.

The pandemic and measures to mitigate it will have short- and long-term consequences on gender inequality and VAWG, increasing the existing risk to women and girls. Only by taking a primary prevention approach to tackle VAWG can we mitigate the consequences of this virus and end VAWG.

Primary prevention must take into account the experiences of women and girls through the pandemic, with particular focus on the experiences of marginalised women and girls.

Impact on Gender inequality

Women are more likely to be providing additional care to children, older people, or disabled people. Women are also more likely to work in part-time, insecure and low-pay jobs affected by COVID-19, such as retail, catering, cleaning or caring 15. As a result, women are more likely to experience additional pressures of care work and are more likely to suffer economic hardship during and after this pandemic. Globally women make up 70% of health and social care workforce, increasing women’s risk of exposure to the virus, while a reduction in non-essential healthcare provision will likely impact upon sexual and reproductive healthcare services.16

Impact on Women’s safety

Lockdown and COVID-19 related social isolation has resulted in significant concerns over women’s safety. Refuge has highlighted an 80% increase in calls to their domestic abuse hotline 17, and Scottish Women’s Aid has reported a significant impact on refuge accommodation, child contact and access to justice 18. Between June 25th and July 1st 2020, 121 children were placed on the child protection register, 48% of whom had domestic abuse reported as a factor in their registration, representing a 12% increase on the same week in 2019 19.

Impact on marginalised women

  • Reports of interpersonal racism against women have significantly increased during the pandemic as a result of anti-Asian racism and ‘fakenews’ promoting the idea that Muslim people are ‘superspreaders’. 20 Muslim women are more likely to experience abuse in public and online than Muslim men 21.
  • Specialist ethnic minority domestic abuse support organisations have reported a decrease in contact from women experiencing honour-based violence, raising concerns that women are unable to make contact due to stricter controls on their freedom. 22
  • Women who sell sex have experienced serious financial hardship, with a disproportionate number of women selling sex facing destitution. The virus has increased the risk of violence and coercion from clients and caused increased fear of stigma as women turn towards less safe or online means of making money. 23
  • Disabled people are more likely to say that they will come out of the crisis in more debt, and over a third of disabled mothers are struggling to feed their children. 24 Some disabled women have complex needs which make it difficult for them to find and access refuges; Sisters of Frida have highlighted the need for services to do more than the required ‘reasonable adjustments’ to meet the needs of disabled women in danger of domestic abuse.25 Disabled women have reported additional hardships in accessing food and essential supplies, medical care, and personal assistant or care services. They have also reported higher levels of anxiety because of concerns over blanket Do Not Resuscitate orders for vulnerable people. 26
  • During the first week of lockdown, LGBT Foundation experienced a 450% increase in calls related to biphobia, a 100% increase in calls about transphobia, and a 52% increase in calls relating to homophobia. 8% of LGBT+ people reported that they do not feel safe at home during the crisis because of LGBT+-phobic families and housemates, or because of domestic abuse. There has been a 38% increase in LGBT+ people referred for domestic abuse support, an increase in reported hate crime, and a decrease in access to healthcare. 27

What Can You Do?

To build a Scotland where VAWG is no longer tolerated, we need new social norms (including equal and respectful relationships), elimination of all forms of oppression and discrimination, and collective action to tackle women’s inequality. The impact of the pandemic on certain groups has shown this work to be more important than ever and reminded us that we all have a role to play.

Individuals:

Promote gender equality in our professional and personal relationships, workplaces and communities by advocating for change and challenging gender stereotyping and inequality. People of all genders, including boys and men, should be involved in primary prevention. See our resources, It’s Time for Prevention Animation, and You Can Be Campaign for Parents, EY practitioners and carers of school children, for more information.

Organisations and Employers:

Tackle occupational segregation and the pay gap. Provide career development opportunities for women. Offer and promote parental leave policies to both women and men. See our resource, Zero Tolerance at Work, for more information.

Local Authorities:

Prioritise primary prevention by using the Primary Prevention Guidance for Community Planning Partners to help ensure that local community planning partners are working to tackle the causes of VAWG and gender inequality. The Coronavirus Supplementary National Violence Against Women Guidance provides guidance on planning primary prevention as part of local COVID-19 responses.

National leaders:

Speak publicly about the continuum of VAWG and how to prevent it by driving greater public understanding of the links between gender inequality and VAWG. Work to make tackling gender stereotyping and inequality a priority within early years care and education. Commit to the long and continuous work to tackle all forms of social, political and cultural discrimination, inequality and disadvantage.

Get in touch with Zero Tolerance for more information on info@zerotolerance.org.uk

References:

  1. Safer Lives: Changed Lives: A Shared Approach to Tackling Violence Against Women in Scotland (2009) https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2009/06/02153519/5)
  2. Domestic Abuse Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2018-19 (https://www.gov.scot/news/domestic-abuse-recorded-by-the-police-in-scotland-2018-19/)
  3. Recorded Crime in Scotland 2018-2019 (https://www.gov.scot/publications/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19)
  4. Mckinsey 2020, COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects (https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/covid-19-and-gender-equality-countering-the-regressive-effects)
  5. Alon et al., 2020, The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality, The University of California (https://www.crctr224.de/en/research-output/discussion-papers/archive/2020/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-gender-equality-titan-alon-matthias-doepke-jane-olmstead-rumsey-michele-tertilt)
  6. Wise Women (2015), Daisie Project: violence against disabled women survey
  7. Equality Network, Scottish Trans (2017): Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report Picture
  8. Southall Black Sisters Safe and Sane Report (2011) (www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/reports/safe-and-sane-report)
  9. Kelly, Liz (1988) Surviving Sexual Violence
  10. Hester and Westermand, 2005, p15, cited in Ellis Jane Literature Review: Better outcomes for children and young People Experiencing Domestic Abuse – Directions for good Practice
  11. Our Watch, Putting Prevention into Practice (2017) https://www.ourwatch.org.au/getmedia/a8d9dc3d-2291-48a6-82f8-68f1a955ce24/Putting-prevention-into-practice-AA-web.pdf.aspx
  12. Crenshaw K (1989) ‘Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics', The University of Chicago Legal Forum, pp. 139–167
  13. Safer Lives: Changed Lives: A Shared Approach to Tackling Violence Against Women in Scotland (2009) (https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2009/06/02153519/5)
  14. Mckinsey 2020, COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects (https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/covid-19-and-gender-equality-countering-the-regressive-effects); UNDP Gender inequality and the COVID-19 crisis: A Human Development Perspective (http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/covid-19_and_human_development_-_gender_dashboards_final.pdf); Alon et al. 2020 The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality, The University of California (https://www.crctr224.de/en/research-output/discussion-papers/archive/2020/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-gender-equality-titan-alon-matthias-doepke-jane-olmstead-rumsey-michele-tertilt)
  15. Engender Breifing: Women and COVID-19 (https://www.engender.org.uk/content/publications/Engender-Briefing---Women-and-COVID-19.pdf); Mckinsey 2020, COVID-19 and gender equality: Countering the regressive effects (https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/covid-19-and-gender-equality-countering-the-regressive-effects); Alon et al. 2020 The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality, The University of California (https://www.crctr224.de/en/research-output/discussion-papers/archive/2020/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-gender-equality-titan-alon-matthias-doepke-jane-olmstead-rumsey-michele-tertilt)
  16. UNDP Gender inequality and the COVID-19 crisis: A Human Development Perspective (http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/covid-19_and_human_development_-_gender_dashboards_final.pdf)
  17. Corona Virus: domestic abuse hotline sees surge (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53498675).
  18. Crisis and Resilience: Impact of a global pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and service providers in Scotland (https://womensaid.scot/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/SWA-COVID-Report.pdf)
  19. Coronavirus (COVID 19): domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls during Phases 1, 2 and 3 of Scotland’s route map (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-domestic-abuse-forms-violence-against-women-girls-during-phases-1-2-3-scotlands-route-map-22-11-august-2020/pages/9/)
  20. Locked in abuse, locked out of safety. The pandemic experiences of Migrant women. Safety for Sisters (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5af498dd3c3a53848b8530b6/t/5f8d43da5688f32ed1347aaa/1603093480213/Locked_in_abuse_locked_out_of_safety_S4Sreport.pdf).
  21. Locked in abuse, locked out of safety. The pandemic experiences of Migrant women. Safety for Sisters (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5af498dd3c3a53848b8530b6/t/5f8d43da5688f32ed1347aaa/1603093480213/Locked_in_abuse_locked_out_of_safety_S4Sreport.pdf).
  22. Coronavirus (COVID 19): domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls during Phases 1, 2 and 3 of Scotland’s route map (https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-domestic-abuse-forms-violence-against-women-girls-during-phases-1-2-3-scotlands-route-map-22-11-august-2020/pages/9/)
  23. Encompass, Covid-19 moving out of lockdown. The experiences and needs of women in the sex industry. (https://www.encompassnetwork.info/uploads/3/4/0/5/3405303/moving_out_of_lockdown.pdf)
  24. Disabled women and Covid-19 – Research Evidence (https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/disabled-women-and-covid-19)
  25. The impact of Covid-19 on Disabled Women from Sisters of Frida (http://www.sisofrida.org/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-disabled-women-from-sisters-of-frida/)
  26. The impact of Covid-19 on Disabled Women from Sisters of Frida (http://www.sisofrida.org/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-disabled-women-from-sisters-of-frida/)
  27. Hidden Figures: The impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on LGBT Communities in the UK (https://lgbt.foundation/coronavirus/why-lgbt-people-are-disproportionately-impacted-by-coronavirus)

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