The UN declaration on violence against women (1993) defines such violence 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 private life.
The vast majority of these violent acts are perpetrated by men on women and girls and includes domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, so-called ‘honour based violence', female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Each year across the UK 3 million women experience violence, and there are many more living with the legacies of abuse experienced in the past.
Figures from the End Violence Again Women YouGov poll (2010) show that almost one in three girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school. Nearly three quarters of the children polled reported hearing sexual name calling towards girls on an almost daily basis at school.
A key issue concerned with preventing violence against women is the persistence of attitudes that normalise violence against women and girls. Over one in three people believe that a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk.
The inclusion of issues central to gender equality and violence against women and girls in the school curriculum is a vital tool in changing attitudes, and empowering young girls and boys to understand that any form of violence, abuse or controlling behaviour in a relationship must not be tolerated.
The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) has repeatedly highlighted the sexualisation of women in the media and popular culture as a 'conducive context' for violence against women and has called for action to tackle this. Research shows that adults who viewed sexually objectifying images of women in the mainstream media were more likely to be accepting of violence.
There is a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm. Using materials and resources that promotes positive role models for young men and young women and challenges gender stereotypes can be an important part of examining women's representation in media and popular culture.
Resources on violence against women and girls
- A free CD Rom with PSHE and citizenship lessons for key stage 3 & 4
- Three downloadable resource sheets aimed at pupils aged 11-18 that include a global dimension to studying gender issues.
- Southall Black Sisters
- The Disrespect Nobody website contains a series of short films on relationship abuse
- The Home Office has a toolkit Expect Respect aimed at Key stages 3, 4 and 5 addressing teenage relationship abuse.
- The Hideout – Women's Aid charity for children for children and young people.
- Teaching resources designed to be used in PSHE these include material on forced marriages aimed at KS3
- Resources compiled by the Programme Manager of the Hounslow Domestic Violence Education Programme, including books, films, resource packs and websites.