• Ambitious strategy to tackle gender-based violence approved by city-region’s leaders.
  • Strategy shaped following consultation with communities, professionals, and groups supporting victims and survivors.
  • Focus on prevention to stop abuse occurring and early interventions to protect most at risk.
  • Commitments include work with organisations to ensure minoritised communities receive support; provision of housing for survivors of domestic abuse; and education targeted at men and boys

GREATER Manchester’s leaders have taken a major step forward to tackle gender-based violence in the city-region by approving an ambitious 10-year strategy that confronts the issue head-on.

For several months, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has been working with partners on a long-term plan to improve the city-region’s response to gender-based violence and identify methods to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The strategy outlines how Greater Manchester intends to tackle the many forms of gender-based violence through a whole-system approach. While the issue can affect all, evidence shows that most gender-based violence is committed against women and girls, in the main by men and boys.

The strategy has been shaped following consultation with individuals, professionals, community groups and charities including those that support victims and survivors; the Greater Manchester Women and Girls Equality Panel; Disability Panel; Older People’s Network; and a sub-group of the Race Equality Panel.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I want Greater Manchester’s streets, workplaces, schools, universities and homes to be safe for everyone, regardless of gender. Nobody should be made to feel unsafe, intimidated or threatened in our city-region and our Gender-Based Violence Strategy aims to make real changes over a 10-year period.

“The first key step in putting the strategy into place is ensuring agencies are working together to improve the services available to victims. Another major part of the strategy will be the launch of a sustained public awareness campaign, directed at educating men and boys, to challenge attitudes and behaviours. We will now begin to put our strategy into practise and ask the public to work with us as we put a stop to gender-based violence once and for all.”

Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “Gender-based violence is a global issue that disproportionately affects women and girls. It is deep-rooted in gender inequality and unconscious bias that has developed over generations, and it has far-reaching consequences for communities and society, individuals and their families. The everyday experience of women and girls can include harassment, physical and sexual attacks as well as intimidation – enough is enough and we most put a stop to this happening in the future.

“That’s why GMCA has been developing a long-term strategy to end gender-based violence and ensure Greater Manchester can be one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old. Our strategy sets out a programme of service delivery to enhance the safety of women and girls, while preventing gender-based violence and challenging the attitudes and inequalities that enable it.”

The whole-system approach looks at how health services, education establishments, the criminal justice system and housing providers amongst others, can work in partnership to improve the lives and safety of women and girls in the city-region. The approach mirrors that called for by HMICFRS in its recently published report into the policing response to Violence Against Women and Girls, following a root and branch review.

Work is already underway across Greater Manchester to tackle gender-based violence:

  • GMCA and the Deputy Mayor are working with the newly established Sexual Violence Action Network for Students to develop a hard-hitting campaign to challenge behaviours and attitudes and prevent sexual violence and harassment.
  • Domestic abuse remains a priority for GMP, and earlier this year, there was a dedicated operation to target perpetrators of this type of crime. During the operation which took place between Monday 19 July 2021– Saturday 31 July 2021, 230 DA arrests were made across the force – 91 of those arrests were for outstanding perpetrators.
  • We are rolling out the Cut it Out campaign across Greater Manchester, an initiative that offers free training to hair and beauty professionals so they know what domestic abuse is and how to recognise the signs of domestic abuse in their clients to help them get help and support.
  • Next month will see the launch of a pilot project commissioned by Greater Manchester NHS partners. ADViSE aims to support sexual health staff to identify and respond to patients affected by domestic violence.

Over the next 10 years, Greater Manchester will focus on the following commitments:

  • Accountability to victims and survivors, children, and young people.
  • Sustained engagement with the public, employers, and educational institutions.
  • Recognition of the roles played by frontline health, social care and specialist, VCSE and ‘by and for’ service providers in reducing repeat victimisation
  • Openness about the capacity of the criminal justice system to deliver justice to victims and the demands it places on them.
  • An integrated housing policy that ensures most victims can stay in their own homes or are swiftly rehoused locally without compromising their tenancy rights.
  • Safe and effective interventions with perpetrators that prioritise the protection of victims and survivors.

There will also be the establishment of a new Gender-Based Violence Board, which will drive the implementation of the Strategy over the next 10 years. The board will include victims and survivors, and organisations that represent them, as co-chairs, and will have strong links with the Greater Manchester Women and Girls Equality Panel, and the Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel.

Priya Chopra, CEO of Saheli, a charity that supports minortised women affected by domestic violence, said: “At Saheli supporting Black, Asian and Minortised women we have been keen to ensure that the issues being faced by women and children from our communities reach the policy makers. Inclusion of some of the recommendations of our research report Unequal Regard Unequal Protection written in partnership with other Black and Minortised organisations is a big step forward for us. 

“We look forward to the development of a strategic group with women of lived experience having a voice and ensuring the strategy and action plan will be inclusive and bring much needed change to protect women and children experiencing domestic and sexual abuse, honour based violence, forced marriage, stalking and harassment. We have a long way to go but welcome this initiative by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Gender Based Violence is being prioritised in a collaborative way and strategy needs to ensure those who experience domestic experience abuse and need help are provided with safety, protection and support including migrant women who have no recourse to public funds.”

There will be a bespoke plan created to address how to effectively meet the needs of male victims and survivors. This will cover acts of violence, abuse and exploitation in which men or boys are the victims, and in which their gender, sexuality and/or intimate relationships are motivating or prevailing factors.

  • The full strategy is available here: Greater Manchester Gender-Based Violence Strategy.
  • The Sexual Violence Action Network for Students is made up of University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Salford, students, GMP and GMCA.

 


Article Published: 24/09/2021 10:27 AM