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Ending Violence Against Women & Girls

Women frequently face issues around domestic and sexual violence and gender disparity in many aspects of day-to-day life. According to the Office for National Statistics, in England and Wales:

  • Almost one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime
  • Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone
  • In the year ending March 2019, 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse.

These figures are from 2019, but as with so many other things, this situation has been made even worse by the Covid pandemic. According to reports, almost 50 suspected killings may have occurred during the first lockdown.

Our Human Rights Act is essential in providing protections around some of these issues and is a mechanism through which women’s voices can be heard and inequalities challenged.

As our friends at Southall Black Sisters state:

“we need to safeguard the Human Rights Act 1998 as a key tool of accountability. Without proper police accountability there can be no gender justice. Now more than ever we need to defend women’s rights as human rights.”

Key information

Who is this for:
Public bodies

Last updated
22nd November 2022

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Real life stories

Article 2 issues may arise when police do not investigate risks to women’s lives, such as where they aware of domestic violence.

Banaz’s father and uncle killed her for wanting to divorce her violent husband and marry a man from a different ethnic boyfriend. Before she was killed, Banaz had received a number of death threaths and been attacked by her partner, which she reported to the police. Banaz asked for protection but the police did not take her seriously. After Banaz’s death, her sister brought a case against the police for failing to protect her right to life.

Article 3 issues may arise when police fail to investigate crimes that cause severe harm.

When Laura was seventeen years old, she told the police she had been raped by someone she knew. The police ignored the evidence she provided and instead arrested her for perverting the course of justice. Laura spent months on police bail, was twice attacked in the street for “lying” about being raped and twice attempted suicide. Finally, after complaints from her mother, new officers took over the case and conducted forensic tests that identified Laura’s rapist. The police accepted they had breached Laura’s Article 3 rights by failing to investigate her rape and changed their internal processes.

Article 8 issues may arise when a lack of support makes it difficult for families to stay together.

Yolande and her children were fleeing domestic violence, and her husband’s attempts to track them down as they moved from town to town across the UK. They were referred to Social Services in their borough, but social workers told Yolande that the constant moving of her children meant she was an unfit parent and that she had made the family intentionally homeless. They said that they had no choice but to place her children in foster care. A support worker helped Yolande to challenge Social Services’ decision as it failed to respect her and her children’s right to family life. Social Services reconsidered the issue, taking the family’s human rights into account, and agreed the family would remain together, and that Social Services would help cover some of the essential costs of securing private rented accommodation.

Article 14 issues may arise when guidance or policies has a disproportionate impact on women and cannot be objectively justified.

Kate was an environmental activist who met Mark at a protest. They had a relationship and he became close with her family. It later came out that Mark was an undercover officer for the Metropolitan Police who had taken on a fake identity to find out more about what protest groups were planning. The police force had not taken sufficient steps to prevent officers entering sexual relationships with activists and so failed to protect them from inhuman or degrading treatment. This discriminated against women as they were more likely to be tricked into relationships with undercover officers and were could be at risk of pregnancy.

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