Violence against women and girls (VAWG)

Violence against women and girls is both a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights. The United Nations Declaration on 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 [or girls], including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.’ (1993, Article 1)

This includes a wide range of abusive behaviours including physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is abuse that is targeted at women or girls because of their gender and it affects women and girls disproportionately but men can be abused too. It is important that VAWG is not seen as a series of incidents or assaults which a woman or girl experiences, but as a pattern of violent or controlling behaviour that seeks to achieve power and control over them. VAWG has a very big impact on the physical safety, health and emotional well-being of individuals, and impacts on families, children and the community as a whole.

Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of their economic status, gender, religion, ethnicity, age.

The VAWG strands covered by Waltham Forest are:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Harmful Practice:
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Forced marriage 
  • So-called 'Honour' Based Violence
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Stalking and harassment
  • Prostitution
  • Trafficking

Useful documents

Contact information

For further information on all of our VAWG work,
Email: vawg@walthamforest.gov.uk

Domestic abuse Click to get info

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is: Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Domestic abuse happens across all communities, faiths and cultures. Most often, domestic abuse is committed by men against women, but it also happens in gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender relationships. Sometimes women abuse men. Sometimes other family members may also be involved.

Waltham Forest Council is committed to working in partnership with statutory, voluntary and community organisations to prevent Domestic abuse and to reduce the harm it causes to individuals, families and the community as a whole.

Types of domestic abuse

Physical abuse               
Physical abuse (violence) can include pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons.

Verbal abuse
Verbal abuse is the use of harsh or insulting language directed at a person. You might be called names or constantly put down by your partner.

Emotional abuse
Emotional abuse or coercive control is the act(s) of repeatedly making someone feel bad, intimidated or scared. This can include threatening or controlling behaviour (such as controlling or withholding finances), blackmailing, constantly criticising or checking up on someone, or playing mind games.

Coercive control is now a criminal offence under the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Mental abuse
Psychological or mental abuse is when someone is subjected or exposed to a situation that can result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sexual abuse
Sexual abuse is when you’re forced or pressured to have sex without your consent (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping or being made to watch pornography.

As many as one in four women and one in six men experience some form of domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

It can be hard to admit, even to yourself, that you are a victim of Domestic Abuse. But this is the first step to getting help.

No one has the right to abuse you. You and your children have a right to be safe.

Ignoring violence is dangerous. Violence rarely happens only once. In fact it is more usual for the violence to become more serious the longer it carries on.

Help for victims and witnesses

If you’re in an abusive relationship or have experienced domestic abuse in the past, there are local organisations that we can help you with free and confidential support.

Specially training members of staff will help you think through your options and come up with a plan to put safeguards and support in place for you and your family.

Local Support Services

Waltham Forest Solace Women’s Aid - 07340 683382

Ashiana Network (South Asian, Turkish and Iranian women) - 020 8539 0427

Haven the Survivors of Abuse Network (historic and current sexual abuse) - 020 8520 0755

Kiran Project (women and children from BAMER communities) - 020 8558 1986

Stay Safe East (Disabled people service) - 020 8519 7241 text phone 07587 134 122

IMECE (Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot women) - 020 7354 1359

National/London Support Services

National Domestic Violence Helpline - 0800 2000 247

Men’s Advice Line - 0808 801 0327

Galop (LGB and TQi) - 020 7704 2040

Deaf Hope UK - SMS: 07970 350 366

Ascent Legal Advice line - 020 7608 1137            

Help for perpetrators of domestic abuse

There are services designed to help perpetrators of domestic abuse change their abusive behaviour. The programmes usually involve an individual assessment followed by group work over a set period of time.

If the perpetrator is prosecuted the courts can make an order for the perpetrator to attend a programme run by the Probation Service. There are also some voluntary programmes that are available to men who have not been prosecuted.

These specialist services are governed by a set of national standards set down by Respect – the national association of perpetrator programmes.

Waltham Forest has commissioned RISE Mutual to provide support services to perpetrators residing in Waltham Forest.

For information about other perpetrator programmes in London contact the Respect Phone Line on 0808 802 4040 or visit the Respect Line website.

Local Support Services

Rise Mutual - 07535 651784

The Waltham Forest MARAC is a monthly risk management meeting where professionals share information on high risk cases of domestic violence and abuse and put in place a risk management plan.

The MARAC aims to:

  • Share information to increase the safety, health and well-being of victims/survivors, adults and their children
  • Determine whether the alleged perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or to the general community
  • Construct jointly and implement a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and that reduces the risk of harm
  • Reduce repeat victimisation
  • Improve agency accountability, and
  • Improve support for staff involved in high-risk domestic abuse cases

SafeLives (previously known as CAADA) provides general information on MARACs and quality assures MARACs nationwide.

MARAC referrals

There are currently four criteria for referring a case to MARAC:

  • Visible high risk
  • Professional judgment
  • Potential escalation
  • Repeat cases

MARAC meetings are held monthly and are attended by professionals only. 

  • If you are a practitioner and you would like further information, please contact: Waltham Forest MARAC Team on Tel: 020 3276 0956 or Email: JCMailbox-.MARAC@met.pnn.police.uk (secure email)

Domestic Homicide Reviews Click to get info

What happens when someone is killed as a result of domestic violence?

When this happens, the law says that professionals involved in the case must review what happened so that we can identify what needs to be changed and reduce the risk of it happening again in the future.

The Home Office has published guidance on when we need to set up a domestic homicide review and how to do it. This is explained on the Home Office website. Domestic homicide reviews are not inquiries into how the victim died or into who is responsible. The purpose of a domestic homicide review (DHR) is to understand where there are lessons to be learned and make recommendations to prevent future homicides.

When a homicide takes place in Waltham Forest, the police will immediately inform the Chair of the Community Safety Partnership. The Community Safety Partnership will decide whether a DHR will take place, and if so, appoint an independent chair and report writer. Panel members can include representatives from: Waltham Forest Police, Adult Social Care, Children Social Care, Housing providers, Domestic, Sexual Violence specialist services, North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), Barts Health and/or Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group.

All of the information shared from the review is confidential until it has been approved by the Home Office and then published.

Family members, friends and colleagues of the victim are important to the DHR process. The independent chair will aim to make contact with friends and family, to enable them to inform the review and build a complete view of the victim.

Waltham Forest Domestic Homicide Review Reports

This report is for the publication of the domestic homicide review for Tekia  (not his real name). This was the first domestic homicide review in Waltham Forest following the implementation of the statutory guidelines in April 2011.

This report was sent to the Home Office for approval in September 2015. In December 2015 we heard back that the report has been approved through the Quality Assurance panel.

Executive summary of the report into the death of Tekia (254KB PDF file)

The DHR panel wishes to express its condolences to the children, family members and friends. May he rest in peace.

Useful documents

  • HM Government: Domestic Homicide Review
  • Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse – Domestic Homicide Case Analysis

Waltham Forest Community Safety Partnership coordinates a borough-wide Domestic Abuse One Stop Shop.  This free and confidential service is for anyone experiencing domestic violence and seeking help or advice.

Residents who have been abused or know someone who has been abused can get help from a number of experts I one location who can provide them with information about their options.

Among the specialists available is an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor - The advisor can provide a wide range of constructive and practical advice about domestic abuse and on issues like housing, counselling, money and the impact of domestic abuse on children. Advice can be sought at the same location from a specially trained police officer and a local solicitor.

The One Stop Shop provides a drop-in or appointment service and starting from January 2017 services will be available from the locations and dates listed below. Appointments can be booked from 9.30am-12.30pm:

Chingford Children and Family Centre Hub

5 Oaks Grove, Chingford, E4 6EY telephone 020 8496 1551

  • 6 December 2017

Walthamstow Children and Family Centre Hub

313 Billet Road, Walthamstow, E17 5PX telephone 020 8496 3511

  • 13 December 2017

Leyton Children and Family Centre Hub

215 Queens Road, Leyton, E17 8PJ telephone 020 8496 2442

  • 20 December 2017

 

The Specialist Domestic Violence Court (SDVC) was introduced to make it easier for people who have experienced domestic violence to:

  • come forward/access the criminal justice system
  • to improve victim’s experience of the court process
  • to increase the proportion of successful outcomes.

The Specialist Domestic Violence Court at Thames Magistrates operates a remand and sentencing court every Thursday. The Specialist Domestic Violence Court at Stratford Magistrates operates Domestic Violence trial courts every Monday and Tuesday.

Key features of the Specialist Domestic Violence Court

  • Specially trained Court Personnel
  • Specially trained Prosecutors and Police who have a good awareness of the key features around domestic violence
  • Special Measures are put in place to improve the safety and experience of victims, such as separate entrances, exits and waiting areas. This is to ensure that victims do not come into contact with their attackers
  • Tailored support and advice for victims are available from Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA’s).

Effective case management and information sharing is practiced across a range of agencies to reduce delays in the prosecution process, and to increase successful outcomes within the court process. Measures for victims and witnesses to claim their expenses back if they are required to attend court are also available.

Victims and witnesses are also given the opportunity to have a pre court visit organised through the Witness Service. This allows them to see what happens during a trial and to also request safety measures for their trial day.

Referral procedures

The service is only offered to victims and witnesses who are attending Thames or Stratford Magistrates Court in relation to domestic abuse criminal proceedings.

For any further information, please contact: vawg@walthamforest.gov.uk

Courts which cover Waltham Forest cases:

  • Thames Magistrates Court
    58 Bow Road
    London
    E3 4DJ
  • Stratford Magistrates Court
    389-397 High Street
    London
    E15 4SB

Sexual violence Click to get info

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is any sexual contact that is unwanted or against someone’s will. It includes all forms of sexual acts including rape, sexual assault, sexual touching, sexual harassment, sexting or threats of sexual violence.

Sexual violence means any touching that you don’t want or that makes you feel uncomfortable, including when you don’t feel able to say no.

Sexual violence is never your fault, no matter what you were wearing, who you were with, where you went or how much you had been drinking.

The person who commits the assault is always to blame for making the choice to commit assault.

Is rape always carried out by strangers?

No, most victims of sexual violence experience it from someone they know. Most studies have found that between 85 to 90 per cent of people knew their attacker.

Rape can happen to anyone of any race, religion or social status.

Who are the victims?

  • Spouses and partners (and ex-spouses and ex-partners)
  • Adults and children
  • Men and women
  • Strangers and acquaintances
  • Sex workers
  • People with learning difficulties or mental health problems
  • Anyone

Is it my fault if I am drunk or wearing certain clothes?

No one is to blame for sexual assault except the perpetrator. Despite this, a study in the UK found that a quarter of people believe that a woman is at least partly to blame for being raped if she is wearing ‘sexy’ or revealing clothing, or is drunk.

Further myths

  • Rape is committed by strangers in dark alleyways
  • Those who rape are monsters or mentally ill
  • If there was no physical force or violence used it can’t have been rape
  • The man was drunk/ on drugs/ depressed/ under stress/ wasn't himself
  • Men who rape are sexually frustrated/ do not have the opportunity to have sex with a willing partner
  • If you are in an intimate relationship or married it can’t be rape.

What is consent?

A person consents if he/she agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice (Section 74 Sexual Offences Act 2003 – in force since May 2004)

Freedom means that you have not been coerced or forced to make the choice to have sex and capacity means that you have the mental and physical ability to say yes.

  • A child under the age of 13 cannot by law be deemed to consent to sexual activity
  • Sex with any girl/boy under 16 is unlawful, including oral and anal. It doesn’t make any difference if permission is given or not, if you’re under 16 sex is illegal
  • Consent may be withdrawn at any time
  • If you are too drunk or too high to give consent it is rape
  • If you do not get consent – it’s rape

Legal proof of consent - POWER:

  • Physical disability – complainant could not communicate consent
  • Overpowered – complainant given a substance which prevents ability to consent
  • Wake up – the complainant was asleep or unconscious
  • Entrapment: the complainant was unlawfully detained
  • Ready violence – at time or immediately before person used violence or caused complainant to fear that immediate violence would be used.

If any of these are proved by the prosecution to be present at the time of the assault then a defendant will need to plead guilty.

Support services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 112 (from a mobile) for the Police

Local Support Services

Solace Women’s Aid - 07340 683382

Haven the Survivors of Abuse Network - 020 8520 0755

Stay Safe East - 020 519 7241 or text 07587 134 122

East London Rape Crisis020 7683 1210
(Mon/Fri/Sat 10am-12pm and Tues/wed/Thurs 6pm-8pm)

National/London Support Services

The Haven Whitechapel020 7247 4787

The Haven provides forensic examinations and support to victims of sexual violence

Website: www.thehavens.org.uk

Rights of Women (Legal Advice Helpline)

Tel: 020 7251 8887 (Criminal Law)
Tel: 020 7251 6577 (Family Law)
Tel: 020 7490 7680 (Immigration and Asylum Law)

Rape Crisis Helpline - 808 802 9999
Website: www.rapecrisis.org.uk

What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (World Health Organisation, Fact sheet N°241, 2010). Female Genital mutilation is also sometimes known as ‘cutting’ or ‘female circumcision’.

What are the health consequences of FGM?

FGM has no health benefits and involves damaging healthy female genital tissue and can cause short-term and long-term physical and psychological damage. It can cause severe bleeding and problems with urinating and menstruating. It also increases risks of infections and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can also cause complications in pregnancy and childbirth.  

Why does FGM happen?

The origin of FGM is complex and it has not been clearly established. However, it is known that FGM predates both Christianity and Islam and it is not condoned by any religion.

There are many different reasons why FGM is continued and these can be categorised under five main headings:

Psychosexual reasons

FGM is carried out as a means to control women’s sexuality; to ensure chastity. It is thought to ensure virginity before and fidelity after marriage and it is believed to increase male sexual pleasure. It is also mistakenly believed by some to enhance fertility after marriage.

Sociological and cultural reasons

FGM is seen as part of initiation into womanhood and as an intrinsic part of a community’s cultural heritage and tradition. It provides the girl with a sense of belonging in the community and is seen as intrinsically linked to a family’s honour and standing in the community.

Hygiene and aesthetic reasons

In some communities, the female genitalia are considered to be dirty and/or ugly. FGM is ostensibly carried out to promote both cleanliness and aesthetic appeal.

Religious reasons

Although FGM is not sanctioned by any major religion, religion is often used to justify its usage.

Socio-economic factors

In many communities, FGM is necessary for marriage. Where women are financially dependent on men, economics can be a determining factor. FGM may also be a major income source for practitioners.

Useful documents

Is FGM illegal?

Yes, FGM is illegal in the UK. The Female Genital Mutilation Act was introduced in 2003 and came into force in 2004. The Act replaced the earlier Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act (1985) and applied in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003):

  • Makes it illegal to practice FGM in the UK
  • Makes it illegal to take girls who are British nationals or permanent residents of the UK abroad for FGM whether or not it is lawful in that country
  • Makes it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure the carrying out of FGM abroad
  • Has a penalty of up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine.

The penalty for FGM is up to 14 years imprisonment and/or a fine on conviction on Indictment; and up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine (not exceeding the statutory maximum) on summary conviction.

Concerns have been raised since the legislation was enacted the fact that the Act prevents British Citizens and permanent residents from assisting or carrying out FGM abroad but cannot be used against people who live in this country.

The Government has announced proposals to close this extraterritorial loophole in the Serious Crime Bill so that habitual residents are covered and they have introduced proposals for a civil protection order. The Serious Crime Bill is currently going through parliament. Further details can be found on the Parliament website.

Support Services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 112 (from a mobile) for the Police.

Local Support Services

  • Solace Women’s Aid07340 683382
  • Lotus Clinic (Whipps Cross Hospital)07949 075814

National/London Support Services

  • Project Azure, Metropolitan Police020 7161 2888
  • NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) helpline0800 028 3550
  • FORWARD – FGM Specialists020 89604000 E-mail: naana@fowarduk.org.uk.
  • Daughters of Eve – FGM Specialists07983 030 488   or 07961797173

Health Passports - Statement opposing female genital mutilation and Information produced by the Home Office for those at risk of FGM are available in a variety of community languages from the VAWG Team at: vagw@walthamforest.gov.uk

Forced Marriage Click to get info

What is a forced marriage?

A forced marriage is where one (or both) of the spouses does not want to get married and is forced or coerced into it. In cases where someone has disabilities, they may not have the capacity to consent to marry. Coercion can include physical, psychological, emotional, sexual and financial pressures and abuse.

Forced marriage is not condoned by any of the major religions (consent is a prerequisite for marriage in all Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish marriages) and is a violation of human rights as well as a form of domestic violence.

Is a forced marriage the same as an arranged marriage?

No, an arranged marriage is different from a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage the family of both spouses are involved in finding the partners and arranging the marriage but the spouses still have a choice about whether the marriage goes ahead.

Does forced marriage only happen in South Asian families?

Whilst forced marriage is sometimes seen as exclusively an issue for Asian communities, there are large numbers of young people being forced to marry in other communities including gypsy/travellers, Middle Eastern, African, South American and Eastern European communities.

Why are people forced into marriage?

Forced marriage is recognised as a form of domestic violenceit is a form of exerting power and control over a person’s choices. There are strong links between forced marriage and so-called ‘honour-based’ violence whereby a person who does not consent is seen to be dishonouring or shaming the family.

There are a wide range of reasons given by parents and the wider family and community for forcing young people into marriages. Parents say that they are protecting their cultural heritage, building stronger family links or religious traditions.

Other major reasons include: controlling young people’s sexuality, especially young women who perceived to be promiscuous or young people who are lesbian or gay; ensuring that land or property remains within the family or gaining financially; preventing seemingly ‘unsuitable’ relationships (outside of caste, religion or culture) and provision of long-term care for a child who has a disability (learning or physical).

Is forced marriage a criminal offence?

Yes, on June 16, 2014, the law on forced marriage came into effect and it is now a criminal offence to force someone to marry. This includes:

  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
  • marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)
  • breaching a forced marriage protection order is also a criminal offence.

How can you safely help someone who is being forced to marry?

  • Encourage them to report to the police and to the Forced Marriage Unit to help them to be safe
  • If they are worried about being taken overseas, help them to make a copy of their passport and keep it in a safe place
  • Speak to the specialist organisations in the contacts section
  • Help them to make a safety plan  to keep themselves safe

Supporting resources​

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 (from a mobile) for the Police

Local Support Services

  • Ashiana Network020 8539 0427
    Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic violence and Female Genital Mutilation, no recourse to public funds

National/London Services

  • Forced Marriage Unit - 020 7008 0151
    Tel from overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151
    (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
    Out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre)
    Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk
  • Iranian, Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation -  020 7920 6460
    Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Southall Black Sisters - 020 8571 0800
    Website: www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/
  • Karma Nirvana - 0800 5999 247
    Website: www.karmanirvana.org.uk

'Honour' based violence Click to get info

What is ‘honour’ based violence?

So-called ‘honour’ based violence is a term used to describe violence committed against a woman or a girl (or sometimes men) who the family or the community feels has not followed what they believe is acceptable behaviour and has brought dishonour or shame to the family.

What sort of behaviours lead to so-called ‘honour’ based violence?

Women and girls can experience violence or, in the most extreme form, be killed for a wide variety of behaviours, which can range from very trivial, such as talking to a male who is not a relative to being sexually assaulted or raped. Some common ’behaviours’ are:

  • defying their parents
  • talking to a male who is not related to the family
  • seeking a divorce or seeking residence of the children after divorce
  • refusing to marry a man chosen by the family (rejecting a forced marriage)
  • sexual relationships or pregnancy before or outside of marriage (including kissing or intimacy in public)
  • becoming ‘western’ (wearing make-up or clothes deemed inappropriate, having male friends or boyfriends from another faith etc.)
  • gossip (rumours can damage the ‘honour’ of a family)
  • using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • being sexually assaulted or raped
  • being homosexual.

Is ‘honour’ based violence linked to religion?

‘Honour’ based violence is not a religious based issue it has been recorded in communities practising every major religion, including Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities. The underlying belief behind ‘honour’ based violence is to maintain the control over women by the men within the family or community by denying women autonomy over their lives – including decisions such as who to marry, their sex lives or divorce and their human rights.

How can I safely help someone who may be subjected to 'honour' based violence?

  • Encourage them to contact a local support service or someone they trust
  • Encourage them to report to the police and to the Forced Marriage Unit to help them to be safe, if they suspect they may be forced into marriage
  • If they are worried about being taken overseas, help them to make a copy of their passport and keep it in a safe place
  • Help them to make a safety plan to keep themselves safe

Support services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 112 (from a mobile) for the Police

Local Support Services

Ashiana Network
Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic violence and Female Genital Mutilation, no recourse to public funds

National/London Services

Forced Marriage Unit - 020 7008 0151
Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk

Iranian, Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation - 020 7920 6460
Forced Marriage, Honour Based Violence, Domestic Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
For out-of-hours emergencies call:
Kurdish / Arabic: 07846 275246
Farsi / Dari / Turkish: 07846 310157

Southall Black Sisters -  020 8571 0800
Website: www.southallblacksisters.org.uk/

Karma Nirvana - 0800 5999 247
Website: www.karmanirvana.org.uk

Child Sexual Exploitation Click to get info

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual violence in which children are sexually exploited in return for money, goods (like cigarettes, alcohol, mobiles or trainers etc.), power or status.

Those exploiting young people have power over them because of their age, status, physical strength and/or resources.

Some young people are trafficked into or around the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Child sexual exploitation is child abuse

Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime. Young people often trust their abuser and don't understand that they're being abused. They may depend on their abuser or be too scared to tell anyone what's happening.

It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults, including oral and anal rape. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Child sexual exploitation doesn't always involve physical contact and can happen online.

What warning signs are there that a young person is being exploited?

The London Safeguarding Children’s Board have developed a handy mnemonic to help people to recognise warning signs of CSE - SAFEGUARD

Sexual health and behaviour concerns
Absent from school or repeatedly running away
Familial abuse and/or problems at home
Emotional and physical condition
Gangs, older groups and involvement in crime
Use of technology and sexual bullying
Alcohol and drug misuse
Receipt of unexplained money or goods
Distrust of authority figures

Support Services

Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) - 0113 240 5226
www.pace.uk

NSPCC - 0808 800 5000
www.nspcc.org.uk

Barnardo’s
www.barnardos.org.uk

Safer London - 020 7021 0301

ChildLine - 0800 1111

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 for the Police

Stalking and harassment Click to get info

If you want to move away from this page quickly, click on change page. The link will take you to the council tax section of this website.

What is the definition of stalking and harassment?

There is no one definition for either stalking or harassment. Stalking and harassment are similar but different forms of VAWG and so have traditionally been considered together in legislation although new stalking offences were created in 2012 to bring stalking within the ambit of the harassment legislation.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers harassment to be “repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.”

The Crime Survey for England and Wales defines stalking as: “One or more incidents (causing distress, fear or alarm) of receiving obscene or threatening unwanted letters, e-mails, text messages or phone calls, having had obscene or threatening information about them placed on the internet, waiting or loitering around home or workplace, following or watching, or interfering with or damaging personal property by any person, including a partner or family member”

What behaviours constitute stalking and harassment?

Harassment in the context of VAWG includes:

  • antisocial behaviour
  • bullying at school or in the workplace
  • cyber stalking on the internet
  • sending abusive text messages
  • sending unwanted gifts.

Stalking is considered as an aggravated form of harassment and includes:

  • persistently following someone
  • repeatedly going uninvited to their home
  • monitoring someone’s use of the internet, email or other form of electronic communication
  • loitering somewhere frequented by the person
  • interfering with their property
  • watching or spying on someone
  • identity theft
  • cyber stalking
  • overt threats.

What is the impact of stalking on victims?

The impact of stalking on victims is varied and depends on the individual circumstances of the person being stalked. Impacts can be wide ranging and affect a person’s physical and mental health as well as impacting on their work and social lives. These include:

Mental health

  • Denial, confusion, self-doubt, questioning if what is happening is unreasonable, wondering if they are over-reacting
  • Frustration
  • Guilt, embarrassment, self-blame
  • Apprehension, fear, terror of being alone or that they, others or pets will be harmed
  • Feeling isolated and helpless to stop the harassment
  • Depression (all symptoms related to depression)
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia (frightened to leave the house, never feeling safe)
  • Difficulty concentrating, attending and remembering things
  • Inability to sleep – nightmares, ruminating
  • Irritability, anger, homicidal thoughts
  • Emotional numbing
  • Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder e.g. hypervigilance (always on the lookout), flashbacks of frightening incidents, easily startled
  • Insecurity and inability to trust others, problems with intimacy
  • Personality changes due to becoming more suspicious, introverted or aggressive
  • Self-medication alcohol/ drugs or using prescribed medications
  • Suicide thoughts and/or suicide attempts

Physical health

  • Fatigue from difficulty sleeping, being constantly on guard, symptoms of depression
  • Effects of chronic stress including headaches, hypertension
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fluctuations in weight due to not eating or comfort eating
  • Development or exacerbation of pre-existing conditions e.g. asthma, gastric ulcers and psoriasis
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Impact on health of increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Physical injury due to not concentrating or being under the influence of substances
  • Heart palpitations and sweating

Work and school

  • Deteriorating school/work performance
  • Increased sick leave
  • Leaving a job or being sacked
  • Changing career
  • Dropping out of school – poorer education and career opportunities

Social life

  • Insecurity and inability to trust others impacting on current and future relationships and friendships
  • Problems with physical and emotional intimacy
  • Avoidance of usual activities e.g., going to the gym, going out
  • Isolation through trying to protect others, feeling misunderstood or psychological symptoms
  • Others withdrawing from the victim because they don’t believe the victim, they are unable to cope with the victim’s mental state or as a direct consequence of third-party victimisation
  • Victim moving to a new area, changing their phone number, name or even their appearance.

Finances

  • Loss of wages due to sick leave, leaving job or changing career
  • Costs incurred through legal fees
  • Expense of increasing home and personal security
  • Cost involved in repairing property damage
  • Seeking psychological counselling and medical treatment
  • Cost involved in breaking leases on rented properties
  • Expense of relocation.

Is Stalking and Harassment illegal?

Stalking

As of November 2012, amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act under Section 111 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, made stalking a criminal offence. This means that any stalking after the November 25, 2012 will be dealt with under the new legislation and any offences prior to that date will be dealt with as ‘harassment’ under Section 2 and 4.

Section 2A stalking

To prove a Section 2A it needs to be shown that a perpetrator pursued a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and that the particular harassment can be described as stalking behaviour. 

Stalking is not legally defined but the amendments include a list of example behaviours which are following, contacting/attempting to contact, publishing statements or material about the victim, monitoring the victim (including online), loitering in a public or private place, interfering with property, watching or spying

This is a non-exhaustive list which means that behaviour which is not described above may also be seen as stalking

A course of conduct is two or more incidents as it is for harassment.

Section 4A stalking

Section 4A stalking involves the fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

Serious alarm and distress is not defined but can include behaviour which causes the victim to suffer emotional or psychological trauma or have to change the way they live their life

Civil Remedies

There is also a route for civil remedy for stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. An injunction can be obtained and damages for anxiety and financial loss applied for. Breach of an injunction is considered either as a criminal offence (whereby the Police and CPS can charge the person stalking with a maximum sentence of five years) or contempt of court (whereby the victim can apply to the civil court with a maximum sentence of two years).

Harassment

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, prohibits harassment. It was always intended to tackle stalking as well according to the Government, but the Act was designed to tackle any form of persistent behaviour that causes someone alarm or distress.

Section 1 of the Act provides that:

A person must not pursue a course of conduct— (a) which amounts to harassment of another, and (b) which he/she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

Section 7 provides that:

‘references to harassment include alarming the person or causing the person distress’ and that this ‘course of conduct’ must have happened on at least two occasions.

Under the 1997 Act there are two key offences:

Section 2: deals with conduct that amounts to harassment of another

Section 4:  covers situations where the victims fears that violence would be used against them.

Local services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 for the Police

National/London services

The National Stalking Helpline - 0800 802 0300

National Stalking Advocacy Service - 0207 840 8960

Prostitution Click to get info

What is prostitution?

Prostitution, which is sometimes called sex work, is the exchange of sex for money or goods when the person selling is aged 18 and over. If they are under 18, then it should always be considered child sexual exploitation (CSE)

Is prostitution illegal?

Prostitution is not a crime in itself but there are a number of offences related to it, including:

  • soliciting
  • kerb crawling
  • owning or running a brothel
  • ‘Pimping’ someone (forcing them into prostitution)
  • procuring (this includes forcing someone into sexual exploitation through trafficking or operating a prostitution business).

Why is prostitution a VAWG strand?

Prostitution is dangerous and unhealthy. Individuals involved in prostitution are often extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Research has shown that many are poor, homeless and have already suffered violence and abuse throughout their life.

  • 85 per cent of women involved in prostitution report a history of physical abuse
  • 45 per cent of women report childhood sexual abuse
  • It is estimated that as many as 95 per cent involved in prostitution have a drug or alcohol addiction.
  • Those involved in prostitution are likely to be at increased risk of violent and abusive behaviour
  • Three quarters of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been physically assaulted
  • More than half of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted

Women may be coerced into prostitution by pimps or traffickers. A 2010 report into the nature and scale of trafficking of migrant women in the UK estimated that of the 75,000 migrant women thought to be involved in off-street prostitution in the UK, 2600 have been trafficked into the UK. There is also a key concern that research has identified that between 50 per cent – 76 per cent of women involved in prostitution started before the age of 21, depending on the study, outlining the need to identify prostitution and correspondingly child sexual exploitation as a child protection issue.

What are the risk factors for prostitution?

There are a number of key risk factors which research and practice have identified for individuals involved in prostitution:

  • experience of violence in the home
  • truancy or exclusion from school (combined with poor educational attainment)
  • running away
  • experience of living in care
  • homelessness or insecure housing
  • problematic drugs or alcohol misuse
  • debt.

Why do women not just exit prostitution?

Barriers to exiting prostitution

Research undertaken by Bindel et al (2012) identified that there are 9 key barriers for individuals exiting prostitution which are all linked to the risk factors and resultant key concerns:

  • problematic drug use
  • problems with housing
  • physical and mental health problems
  • having had experiences of violence as a child
  • criminalisation
  • the role of money (debts or having a large disposable income)
  • experiencing coercion to remain in prostitution
  • lack of qualifications or training
  • entering prostitution at a young age.

All of these factors mean that women engaged in prostitution find it extremely difficult to exit prostitution and need specialist support to ensure that their physical and health needs are met first.

Local services

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 or the Police

Trafficking Click to get info

What is trafficking?

Trafficking is defined as:

‘The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or a position of vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal or organs’.

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.

How do people become victims of trafficking?

The definition of human trafficking includes three elements;

  • first, that someone is recruited or moved
  • second, that the movement or recruitment happened because the victim was forced or tricked into believing they were going to be doing something else. Most victims have been offered something they want or need by a trafficker such as a good job or a loving relationship
  • the third element is that the person is exploited

Note: If the victim is a child, it is considered trafficking even if there is no threat or use of force.

What are the different types of exploitation?

Human trafficking includes:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Benefit fraud
  • Forced labour
  • Organ trafficking
  • Street crime
  • Drug trade
  • Forced marriage
  • Domestic servitude

What is the difference between trafficking and smuggling?

Smuggling

  • Crime against the state
  • Relationship between smuggler and migrant ends after illegal border crossing and migrant has paid fees
  • Migrant’s consent to illegal border crossing is gained

 Trafficking

  • Crime against the person
  • Exploitative relationship between victim and trafficker continues in order to maximise economic gains
  • Either no consent gained or initial consent deemed irrelevant due to force or coercion

The main differences between smuggling and trafficking are that migrants usually consent to being smuggled.

Traffickers generate money from the ongoing exploitation of their victims (smugglers only generate money from the movement and illegal entry, there is no further transaction).

Smuggling must involve illegally crossing a border. Trafficking does not have to involve crossing a border as it can also occur within a country (also known as internal trafficking).

Local services

Waltham Forest Solace Women’s Aid - 07340 683382

Ashiana Network (South Asian, Turkish and Iranian women) - 020 8539 0427

Haven the Survivors of Abuse Network (historic and current sexual abuse) - 020 8520 0755

Kiran Project (women and children from BAMER communities) - 020 8558 1986

Stay Safe East (Disabled people service) - 020 8519 7241 text phone 07587 134 122

National/London services

The National Referral Mechanism

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support.

Under the NRM if a professional believes that they have identified a victim of trafficking then they can refer that person to a Competent Authority (CA) to have their case assessed.  If the Competent Authority recognises that a woman is a victim of trafficking she is given rights that include accommodation and support.

Who can Refer?

Referrals can be made to the NRM by ‘First responders’ who should refer possible victims of trafficking to the Competent Authority who are based in UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).

The following agencies are first responders:

  • National Crime Agency
  • Police forces
  • UK Border Force
  • Home Office Immigration and Visas
  • Local Authorities
  • Health and Social Care Trusts
  • NSPCC (CTAC)
  • Salvation Army
  • Medaille Trust
  • Barnardos

The first responder will complete a referral form to pass the case to the CA. Referral to a CA is voluntary and can happen only if the potential victim gives their permission by signing the downloadable referral form.

Useful contacts

If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 111 (from a mobile) for the Police

Modern Slavery helpline
Tel: 0800 0121 700

UK Human Trafficking Centre
Tel: 0114 252 3891

Salvation Army
A 24 hour confidential helpline for people who may be victims of trafficking and for anyone concerned about people they think may be victims of trafficking.
Tel: 0300 303 8151 (24/7 referral line

White Ribbon Campaign and 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

Waltham Forest Community Safety Partnership facilitates an annual ’16 days of Action Against Gender Violence' and ‘White Ribbon’ campaign which will run from the 25 November – 10 December. We have hosted a wide range of events and details can be found on the '16 days of action' schedule. The timetable also highlights whether the events are open to the public or targeted for practitioners.

The ‘16 Days’ Campaign is an international campaign that started in 1991. Since then, over 5,167 groups in 187 countries have taken part. The ‘16 Days of Action’ run from 25th November, UN International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10th December, Human Rights Day. The campaign spans these 16 Days in order to highlight the link between violence against women and human rights. Today, women and girls are subjected to many forms of human rights violations solely on the basis of their gender.

Linked to the 16 days of action is the White Ribbon Campaign. The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. WRC got started in 1991 when a group of men in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. They decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women. Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

In Waltham Forest we run both campaigns together during the ’16 Days of Action’ marking the fact that no one should condone or commit violence. Show your support by signing the Waltham Forest Domestic Abuse Pledge.

If you or your organisation would like to get involved with the campaign, please contact the Waltham Forest VAWG Team as we want this to be a ‘whole Waltham Forest’ campaign with as much multi-agency involvement as possible!

For more information about the campaign or to support any of the events, please contact the VAWG team at vawg@walthamforest.gov.uk  

White Ribbon Campaign - Domestic Abuse Pledge

Waltham Forest council is committed to working in partnership with statutory, voluntary and community organisations to prevent domestic violence and reduce the harm it causes to individuals, families and the community as a whole.

In 2014, Waltham Forest Community Safety Partnership received ‘The White Ribbon Campaign Accreditation Award’ for our partnership working to tackle domestic abuse. We cannot do this alone and we encourage our partners and local residents to support our aims and sign our Domestic Abuse Pledge.

Waltham Forest’s ‘White Ribbon Campaign Domestic Abuse Pledge’ was launched on November 25, 2014 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and our Accreditation Award.

The launching of the pledge also coincides with the White Ribbon Campaign, a national campaign to encourage people to wear a white ribbon. It also coincides with 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

By signing our pledge you are showing your support for this important campaign.

White Ribbon Campaign – Leyton Orient Pledge

Leyton Orient FC have partnered with the White Ribbon Campaign and Waltham Forest Community Safety Partnership to tackle domestic violence on match days. Nationally, it is shown that after sporting events, domestic violence incidents increase, so Leyton Orient have for the past 4 years dedicated a home game in November a ‘White Ribbon Campaign Game.

Waltham Forest Community Safety Party and the club have produced a special video featuring the Leyton Orient players, Lead Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Borough Commander all showing their support for the worthwhile campaign. This video was shown on the big screen ahead of the game and can be viewed at the club’s official site.

White Ribbon Campaign is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women.

The White Ribbon Campaign started in Canada in 1991, when a group of men decided that they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women and girls.