Last updated: 14 September 2023

Next review: 14 September 2024

What is violence against women and girls?

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
  • psychological abuse.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is abuse that is targeted at women or girls because of their gender. It affects women and girls disproportionately, but men can be abused too.

VAWG must not be seen as a series of incidents or assaults a woman or girl experiences. Rather, it is 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 wellbeing of individuals. It also has impacts on families, children and the community as a whole.

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

VAWG includes the following:

  • 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

This booklet (PDF) shows the work Waltham Forest Council is doing to tackle violence against women and girls.