Gender based violence

Cutting across all boundaries (e.g. age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation), gender based violence covers multiple forms of abuse against people linked directly to their gender.

Whilst gender based violence is mainly aimed at women and girls, there are also instances affecting men. There is significant under reporting of violence against boy and men in regards to domestic and sexual abuse, this is thought to be due to societal stereotyping.

Cutting across all boundaries (e.g. age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation), gender based violence covers multiple forms of abuse against people linked directly to their gender:

  • VAWG – violence against women and girls
  • VAM – violence against men
  • Domestic violence – based on gender
  • Sexual violence – rape, forced sexual acts, forced pregnancy, abortion or sterilisation, FGM
  • Psychological violence – threats, isolation, emotional abuse
  • Faith abuse – forced marriage, exorcism due to sexuality, forced circumcision,
  • Economic violence – controlling their access to all of the family resources: time, transportation, food, clothing, shelter, insurance, and money
  • Use of children – to maintain control over a partner by not paying child support, requiring the children to spy, threatening to take children away, legal fights over custody, kidnapping or taking the children hostage to force

Definition of gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the general term used to capture violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between the two genders, within the context of a specific society.

(Bloom 2008, p14)

Quotation marks

Spotting the signs

  • aggression
  • non-compliance at school
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty developing relationships
  • reduction in attendance and/or attainment
  • eating disorder
  • low self-esteem, depression or anxiety
  • self-harm
  • substance misuse

Approximately 85,000 women are raped and over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted in England and Wales every year. Sexual violence is even more prevalent for younger women as one in three teenage girls has experienced some form of sexual violence from a partner. (University of Bristol for NSPCC).

Young women and girls affected by gangs experience high levels of sexual violence including sexual exploitation, sexual assault, individual rape and multiple perpetrator rape. (University of Bedfordshire)

In 2013, the police recorded at least 1,052 reports of sexual violence in schools, of which 134 were reported as rape.

What you can do

Create an environment based on equality and informed choice. Schools are well placed to help…

  • through prompting equality
  • avoiding serotyping and dispelling societal gender stereotypes
  • embracing difference
  • demonstrating tolerance
  • prompting equality of opportunity across the curriculum
  • tackling any gender bias based language, assumptions
  • addressing gender based bullying or harassment swiftly

Check young people have safe relationships – in their family, with their peers and with your staff. Create the environment where it’s ok to talk even about the most difficult things.

Spot the signs & know what to do – use the checklists above, your safeguarding procedures and be confident in raising gender based violence as a possibility. Remember although the highest proportion of GBV is against women and girls, boys and men also suffer.

Take action – and keep taking action until you know they’re safe

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  • Training resources for DSLs to use in team meetings
  • Reference documents for additional information
  • Handout for school staff summarising gender based violence
  • Quiz to test staff understanding
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