In support to highlight the day and the horrific practice of FGM, IKWRO, a London-based human rights organisation for Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls living in the UK, is hosting Zero tolerance to female genital mutilation on 5 February 2024, 2 – 5 pm, in London at Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA.
The event brings together experts and survivors to shed light on the challenges and gaps in safeguarding women and girls globally in the context of FGM:
Payzee Mahmod, Campaign Manager at IKWRO
Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Executive Director of FORWARD, an African diaspora women’s rights organisation in the UK
Mama Sylla, an FGM survivor and chairwoman of La FRATERNITE UK, a London-based registered charity
Shamsa Araweelo, an FGM survivor and social activist
Janet Fyle, Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) Professional Policy Advisor and a Cardiff University School of Policy Law accredited Expert Witness
Jaswant Kaur Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor
Aisha K. Gill, Ph.D., CBE is Professor of Criminology at University of Bristol
Detective Superintendent Alex Castle, Metropolitan Police and Lead Responsible Officer for Harmful Practices and co-chair of the London Harmful Practice Working Group
Speakers and attendees will engage in discussions about the pressing issues surrounding FGM such as the challenges and barriers to disclosure, reporting and prosecution and explore ways to bridge the existing gaps through policy changes, community involvement and institutional improvements.
***REGISTRATION BACK ON! Due to popular demand, we’ve changed the venue to support an increase in the number of attendees. The conference is now in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre (C101), in the Tait Building, at City. To register please see: VISION and VASC Adolescent Domestic Abuse conference***
Thursday 18th April 2024, 10:00 – 17:00 followed by a reception Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre (Tait Bldg), City, University of London, EC1B 0HB
Adolescent domestic abuse, which includes physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse that occurs between young people who are, or were, dating, is often overlooked in research, policy and practice. The current definition of domestic abuse leaves those aged under 16 in teenage relationships falling into the gap between child protection procedures and adult-focused domestic abuse policy.
The conference brings together academics, practitioners, and policy makers to share existing research, policy and practice.
9:30 – 10:00Registration & refreshments
10:00 – 10:15 Welcome & setting the scene, Dr Ruth Weir, Violence and Society Centre, City, University of London and Katy Barrow-Grint, Assistant Chief Constable, Thames Valley Police
10:15 – 10:45Introductory Speakers, Louisa Rolfe OBE, Metropolitan Police and National Police Chief Council lead for Domestic Abuse and further speaker/s to be confirmed
10:45 – 11:00Rapid evidence review on domestic abuse in teenage relationships, Flavia Lamarre, City, University of London
11:00 – 11:30Learning from the lived experience, SafeLives Changemakers
11:30 – 12:00Researching abuse within teenage relationships: A critique of a decade’s work and what we could do better, Professor Christine Barter, Co-Director of the Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm, University of Central Lancashire
12:00 – 13:00Lunch
13:00 – 14:00Panel 1: Teenage relationships and abuse: What the research says
Panel 1: Step up, Speak Out: Amplifying young people’s voices in understanding and responding to adolescent domestic abuse, Janelle Rabe, Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse, Durham University
Panel 1:‘In practice it can be so much harder’: Young people’s approaches and experiences of supporting friends experiencing domestic abuse, Jen Daw (Senior Research Analyst) and Sally Steadman South (Senior Innovation Lead – Safe Young Lives Programme Lead)
Panel 1: Intimate partner femicide against young women, Dr Shilan Caman, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
14:00 – 14:15Break
14:15 – 15:15Panel 2: Sexual violence in teenage relationships
Panel 2: “Always the rule that you can’t say no”: Adolescent women’s experiences of sexual violence in dating relationships, Dr Kirsty McGregor, University of Brighton
Panel 2: Empowering Youth: Addressing Online Pornography and Adolescent Domestic Abuse – Insights from the CONSENT Project, Berta Vall, Elena Lloberas and Jaume Grané, Blanquerna, Barcelona, Spain and The European Network for work with perpetrators of Domestic Violence, Berlin, Germany
Panel 2: Image-Based Sexual Abuse as a Facet of Domestic Abuse in Young People’s Relationships, Dr Alishya Dhir, Durham University
15:15 – 15:30Break
15:30 – 16:50Panel 3: Specialist services and local government
Panel 3: The role and value of Early Intervention Workers in supporting children and young people aged 11–18 in a domestic abuse service context, Elaha Walizadeh, Children’s Programme Lead and Michaela Bruckmayer, Research Lead, Refuge
Panel 3: Presentation from specialist service provider (TBC)
Panel 3: CYIDVA services in Islington – Aisling Barker, Islington Borough Council
Panel 3: Tackling adolescent domestic abuse in Lambeth, Rose Parker – Head of Commissioning – Safer Communities; Erika Pavely – Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Workstream Lead – Children and young people; Ariana Markowitz – Community Safety Engagement Manager; and Siofra Peeren – Research Practitioner, Lambeth Health Inequalities Research and Evaluation Network
16:50 – 17:00Closing remarks and next steps
17.00 – onwardsDrinks reception, Conference attendees are invited to a drinks reception in the Dame Alice Owen
Registration is required and free. This is an in person conference only and catering will be provided. If you cannot attend but would like the slides, please contact the email listed below.
With his co-presenter, Medina Johnson, CEO of IRIS, they shared the story of the concept and ambition that led to the beginning of the social enterprise established in 2017 to promote and improve the healthcare response to domestic violence and abuse (DVA).
DVA is a violation of human rights that damages the health of women and families. The health care sector, including primary care, has been slow to respond to the needs of patients affected by DVA, not least because of uncertainty about the effectiveness of training clinicians in identification and engagement with survivors of abuse.
To address that uncertainty, Gene and Medina conducted a cluster-randomised trial in Hackney and Bristol, finding that both identification and referral to specialist DVA services substantially increased in the intervention practices.
In the webinar they mapped the (not always smooth) trajectory from trial results to a nationally available programme commissioned by Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and local authorities in over 50 areas to date, including getting into guidelines/policy, further implementation research, negotiating with commissioners, and setting up a social enterprise (IRISi) to drive the scaling up of the intervention.
For further information please watch the webinar video below.
Consultation, evidence and inquiry submissions are an important part of our work at VISION. Responding to Parliamentary, government and non-government organisation consultations ensures that a wide range of opinions and voices are factored into the policy decision making process. As our interdisciplinary research addresses violence and how it cuts across health, crime and justice and the life course, we think it is important to take the time to answer any relevant call and to share our insight and findings to support improved policy and practice. We respond as VISION, the Violence & Society Centre, and sometimes in collaboration with others. Below are the links to our published responses and evidence from June 2022.
UK Parliament – Women and Equalities Committee – Inquiry: The rights of older people. Our submission was published in November 2023
UK Parliament – Women and Equalities Committee – Inquiry: The impact of the rising cost of living on women. Our submission was published in November 2023
UK Parliament – Women and Equalities Committee – Inquiry: The escalation of violence against women and girls. Our submission published in September 2023
On Thursday 19th October 2023, Dr Elizabeth Cook was invited to contribute to an event organised by Public Policy Exchange on Combatting Knife Crime in the UK. With contributions from Professor Lawrence Sherman, Professor Kevin Browne, Bruce Houlder CB KC DL, Nathaniel Levy, Dr Sue Roberts, and Sammy Odoi, the event examined current government strategy and policy responses to knife crime. Applying Carol Bacchi’s (1999; 2009) ‘What’s the problem represented to be?’ (WPR) approach, Elizabeth made the case for a gender analysis of ‘knife crime’, a summary of which is provided below.
What’s the problem represented?
Knife crime is a policy priority that ranks consistently high on the government agenda, appearing in key strategic areas such as serious violence, ‘gang’ involvement and exploitation, and children, young people, and vulnerability. Cutting across these strategic areas is a particular attention to tackling county lines and the misuse of drugs, restrictions on weapon-carrying and possession, early intervention and prevention programmes with young people, and community partnership responses and safeguarding.
What are the assumptions underpinning these representations?
There are key assumptions that underpin these representations of knife crime in public policy, each linked to specific ideas about:
who exactly is at risk,
where is considered to be safe,
who is vulnerable to harm,
and, on the whole, what forms of violence are deemed to be ‘serious’.
Constructions of knife crime as they currently stand, depict the problem as one committed primarily by and against men, occurring in public spaces, often between young people, and as an issue that is increasingly racialised in media and public discourse. The evidence base for each is not to be ignored and there are key takeaways from each policy approach which contribute one piece of a puzzle.
However, taking a WPR approach, there are questions to be asked: What is left unproblematic and what harms and whose voices are missed as a result?
There are key elements that are omitted from current policy approaches to knife crime and lessons to be learned from the violence against women and girls sector which have been relatively absent so far.
What is left unproblematic? Can the problem be thought about differently?
Various sources of evidence highlight that knives are consistently the most frequent method of killing in the context of intimate partner homicide by men against women. While the proportions fluctuate (e.g., ONS 2023; Femicide Census, 2020; VKPP, 2023), it stands that when women are killed by men, they are most likely killed using a knife.
What effects are produced by this problem representation?
Considering that up to 1 in 3 victims of homicides using a knife are women, it is problematic that there is so little analysis of sex/gender in policy responses (see, MOPAC 2017, for an exception). This has serious implications for how interventions are identified.
For example, efforts to regulate offensive weapons through legislation hit a wall when it comes to domestic abuse committed within the home. There have been several proposals over the years to either blunt kitchen knives or confiscate particular knives in the possession of known domestic abuse perpetrators – the assumption here being that the removal of the weapon is the removal of risk. However, the fundamental issue in domestic abuse is that anything is a weapon.
These raise questions about what (or who) is considered to be a source of risk and what can be done to reduce it.
How can we disrupt the problem representation?
While public health approaches to violence frequently invoke the need for multi-agency and partnership working, this must also translate to policy and implementation in strategy as well as practice. This means further work to avoid and break down policy siloes and assumptions in problem representations.
We are pleased to announce a new, one-year partnership with the Violence, Abuse and Mental Health Network (VAMHN).
VAMHN is a network of individuals and organisations aiming to reduce the prevalence of mental health problems by addressing associated violence and abuse, particularly domestic and sexual violence.
The interdisciplinary cross-sector network brings together and supports research by experts from a range of disciplines, sectors, and backgrounds – some with lived experience, others with expertise from the work that they do, and survivor researchers with both.
VAMHN’s work aligns with our own goals of improving measurement of violence and better use of data to prevent and mitigate the harm that violence causes to health and wellbeing.
VAMHN has done sterling work engaging with survivors of violence in co-producing research and creating a Lived Experience (LE) Advisory Group. They will support VISION as we build and expand on LE engagement across our project.
Ruth and Jackie collaborated with two serving police officers, Kate Barrow-Grint and Jacqueline Sebire, to write a book that improves police force understanding of the dynamics of how domestic abuse occurs, how best to respond to and investigate it, and, in the longer term, how to prevent it.
It is a unique collaboration of real-life policing experience blended with the latest academic research and best practice to update some of the theoretical analysis and to highlight areas of good practice like what works and why.
Interpersonal violence, which can include various forms of domestic and sexual violence and abuse (DSVA) is a leading cause of death, particularly among young adults. In the UK, specialist DSVA services provide much-needed support to victim-survivors of these types of violence, and some provide support for perpetrators to change their behaviour. To monitor and support their work, specialist services collect data on violence. This data has the potential to improve understanding of violence but presents unique challenges.
In this review, VISION researchers Dr Annie Bunce, Dr Sophie Carlisle and Dr Estela Capelas Barbosa describe and discuss some of the key challenges facing the data collected by specialist services.
Inconsistencies in data collection arise due to the differing remits and priorities of specialist services, which mean violence and abuse are defined and measured in slightly different ways by these organisations. Particularly, the review highlights the significant variation in outcomes and outcome measurement tools used to evidence the effectiveness of services and interventions.
Specialist support services collect valuable data on many and multiple types of violence, the wide impacts of violence on victim-survivors’ lives, and information about perpetrators. As the data are not collected for research purposes, a considerable amount of work is often required to make the data suitable for statistical analysis. Critically, the piecemeal and insecure funding of specialist services limits their capacity to collect and analyse data.
Together these issues make it challenging to collate data from specialist services and use it to inform measurements of violence.
The researchers recommend the development of a core outcomes framework, exploration of methods for linking specialist services data with other sources of administrative data on violence, and sustainable funding for third sector specialist support services.
Although estimating the prevalence of victimisation among young people is challenging, previous research indicates that around a fifth of young people have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner, half experienced emotional victimisation, and a quarter report some type of unwanted sexual contact. National UK crime surveys consistently find young women to be at greater risk of victimisation than those over 25, and intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) is one of the leading risks of death globally for younger women (aged 20–24).
In this paper, VISION Director Professor Gene Feder and colleagues from the University of Bristol and University of Central Lancashire, explored young people’s experiences of seeking or receiving institutional help and support in relation to IPVA.
Semi-structured interviews were carried with 18 young people aged 18 to 25, using Life History Calendars. Experiences of range of types of services in relation to intimate partner violence were explored, including support from education; primary and maternity services; third sector organisations; and counselling and support workers.
Participants said that they wanted clearer information to be provided in schools on identifying abuse from a younger age and better signposting and access to specialist services. They described how they benefited from equal power dynamics in relationships with professionals where they were supported to make their own decisions.
The authors found that young people often view adult support services as not for them and more needs to be done to understand effective responses to IPVA among different groups. Professionals in all sectors (including schools) need IPVA trauma-informed training that encourages equal power dynamics, with a clear understanding of and access to referral pathways, to be able to respond better to the specific needs of young people experiencing IPVA.
Domestic violence (DV) is a huge social issue and during the COVID-19 pandemic, DV and intimate partner violence (IPV) increased. Frequently imposed quarantine increased contact between perpetrators and victims, potentially leading to underlying increases in the occurrence of violence at home.
Social media sites such as Reddit represent an alternative outlet for disclosing experiences of violence where healthcare access has been limited. This study analysed seven violence-related subreddits to investigate different violence patterns from January 2018 to February 2022, developing a new perspective and methodology for violence research. Specifically, we collected violence-related texts from Reddit using keyword searching and identified six major types of violence with supervised machine learning classifiers: DV, IPV, physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, and nonspecific violence or others. Among IPV-related posts, the number with COVID-related keywords was highest in the middle-pandemic phase.
The findings highlight the importance of the role of social media as a platform for disclosing and describing experiences of violence and support the role of social media site monitoring as a means of informative surveillance for help-providing authorities and violence research groups.