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Crime and victims

Violence against women

Violence against women and girls is unacceptable, whatever the context, whatever the circumstances.

What is it?

Violence against women is any violence that targets a woman because she is a woman. It is also violence that disproportionately affects women. 

It includes physical, sexual or psychological harm such as domestic violence, sexual assault, forced marriage, stalking, ‘honour’ attacks, human trafficking and female genital mutilation. It also includes threats of violence and kidnapping.

Tell us what you think

We are encouraging debate on this issue and your contribution is vital. Everyone is invited to give their views, regardless of gender or age. You can take part in many ways:

What do we want to know?

We want women and girls to feel safe and confident in their homes and communities, so that they can live freely, contribute to society, and prosper in their daily lives. We are asking a few difficult and important questions to help achieve this, including:

  • How do we prevent this sort of violence from happening in the first place?
  • How do we change the way younger men and boys view what is acceptable?
  • How do we protect and support children growing up in violent households?
  • How do we convince women to report it when they're attacked?

What we're doing about it

In recent years we have brought in new laws to protect women and to punish their attackers.

We have also invested more than £90m in building quality support services for women who have been victimised. There are now more than 100 specialist domestic violence courts in England and Wales.

We have also invested £5.8m in The Poppy Project (new window) over the last 6 years to provide high-level specialist support for women trafficked into sexual exploitation.  

In addition the government has:

  • introduced witness care staff and witness protection arrangements in courts 
  • launched a Forced Marriages Unit (new window) that helped 400 women in 2008
  • invested in specialist training for prosecutors, police and court staff in dealing with women who have been attacked or abused
  • invested in prison and probation programmes to rehabilitate and manage the men who attack and abuse women

Facts and figures

  • women are more than twice as likely as men to be worried about violent crime
  • nearly one in three women have experienced domestic violence
  • nearly one in four women have experienced some form of sexual assault
  • 39% of women saying fear of crime has impacts their quality of life
  • 53% of all serious sexual assaults are committed by a partner or ex-partner
  • nearly one in ten women say they have been stalked
  • children who have witnessed domestic violence are 2 times more likely to have serious behavioural problems than other children
  • a survey by Sugar Magazine and the NSPCC in 2005  found that one in five teenage girls who responded said they'd been hit by a boyfriend
  • 40% of victims of serious sexual assault tell nobody

(Sources: the British Crime Survey 2007-08 and 2006-07, Sugar Magazine and the NSPC)

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