The development of a borough wide Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy has been approved by the council’s executive committee which outlines the council’s commitment to tackling all forms of violence against women and girls.
The public profile and awareness of violence against women and girls has been raised in recent years by several well publicised murders including Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and killed by a serving Metropolitan Police Officer.
There have also been the murders of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Stillman, who were killed in a park in northwest London; Julia James, a police community support officer, killed while walking her dog in Kent; and Sabina Nessa, a primary school teacher who was attacked and killed in southeast London.
The combination of these killings, at a time when statistics show that rates of domestic abuse and the number of women requesting support following the COVID-19 pandemic has surged, has led to widespread calls for change.
In July 2021, the Government published a VAWG strategy followed by a national statement of expectations in March 2022 to highlight crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls.
Wokingham specific response to VAWG
The council will use these as a framework for developing a Wokingham specific response to VAWG. By analysing local data by VAWG crime type and exploring best practice, the council will develop a strategy which recognises the profound effect these crimes have on victims, survivors and their loved ones, as well as on wider society.
Cllr Sarah Kerr, executive member for climate emergency and resident services said, “Crimes such as rape, stalking and harassment are taking place every day, as are digital crimes such as ‘cyber-flashing’, ‘revenge porn’ and ‘up-skirting’. They have a long-lasting impact on victims, including mental and physical health problems.
“Large number of women and girls have bad experiences at school, work, on buses and trains, on the street and at home and many feel that crimes such as sexual harassment are almost an inevitable part of being a woman.
“A Wokingham specific VAWG strategy will place the borough in a strong position to develop better processes to work in partnership with our communities. The strategy will also focus on targeting prevention of VAWG through changing attitudes and behaviours.”
The council’s local VAWG strategy will enable:
- All partners involved in the reduction and response to VAWG to be clear about the agreed priorities over the next 10 years and embed these within their organisations and strategic plans.
- All residents to understand and feel able to contribute towards making Wokingham a safer and healthier place for all.
- All victims/survivors to feel supported to seek help and empowered to lead safe lives, free from abuse.
- All perpetrators to know that their behaviour will not be tolerated and where they can seek support for abusive behaviour.
White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls. Their mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by addressing its root causes and their aim is to change long established and harmful attitudes, systems and behaviours around masculinity that perpetuate gender inequality and men’s violence against women.
Further information about White Ribbon can be found by visiting www.whiteribbon.org.uk.
Local help and support
For further information about the help and support available to all residents visit www.wokingham.gov.uk/community-and-safety/domestic-abuse/how-to-get-help/sources-of-support.
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