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The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines violence against women as:

Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The Office for National Statistics found that violence against women and girls (VAWG) can have “significant and long lasting” impacts on victims and survivors, which can lead to “mental health issues, suicide attempts and homelessness”.

Several government strategies have been introduced to tackle VAWG and its interaction with female offending, including:

Stakeholders have called for further government action, particularly in relation to the provision of ‘by and for’ services (specialist services that are led, designed and delivered by and for the users and communities they aim to serve) and support for migrant victims.

Efforts have been made to “improve outcomes and reduce inequalities and discrimination against Black, Asian, minoritised and migrant women in contact with the criminal justice system” through the Tackling Double Disadvantage project, coordinated by a coalition of specialist criminal justice groups. The project has its roots in the Lammy Review, which was commissioned in 2016 when the then Prime Minister David Cameron asked David Lammy MP to lead an independent review of “the over-representation of defendants from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in the criminal justice system”.

In 2022, the Tackling Double Disadvantage project launched a new 10-point action plan (PDF) aimed at tackling “persistent inequalities experienced by Black, Asian, minoritised, and migrant women in the criminal justice system”. The plan said the actions built on the findings of the original Double Disadvantage report, as well as the commitments in the Government’s Female Offender Strategy.

A report published by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) in March 2022 explored how victims of VAWG are “unfairly arrested, prosecuted and convicted in relation to offences arising from their experience of abuse”. 

The paper, Double Standard: Ending the unjust criminalisation of victims of violence against women and girls, found that the alleged offending of women and girls is “frequently directly linked” to their experience as victims of VAWG. The report explains how such criminalisation particularly affects Black, Asian, minoritised and migrant women in a number of ways, including the “double disadvantage” created by intersectional discrimination.

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