Page last updated at 03:59 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Why launch a domestic violence campaign?

Analysis
By Sue Littlemore
Social affairs correspondent, BBC News

Woman with head in hands
A fifth of women over 16 say they have been stalked at some point

When it comes to violent crime, in general, the statistics suggest men are the most likely victims. So why is the government launching a campaign to end violence against women and girls in particular?

The difference is that women disproportionately become the victims of these crimes.

The figures on domestic violence demonstrate the point.

The latest Home Office figures suggest that in one year, 106 people were killed by a current or former partner.

But the overwhelming majority, 72 of them, were women. It means that domestic attacks result in the death of at least one woman every week, on average, in England and Wales.

But this is not the only crime or type of attack where women and girls become the usual target because of their gender.

According to the Home Office, around 10,000 women are sexually assaulted and 2,000 women are raped every week.

Revealing clothing

One-fifth of women over 16 say they have been stalked at some point.

Forced marriage, "honour" killings, trafficking for sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation are all crimes exclusively or mainly perpetrated against women.

Arguably, a campaign to end violence against women and girls in particular is also justified by the findings of an opinion poll commissioned by the Home Office in February this year.

Nearly half of those polled thought that a woman should be held fully or partly responsible if she worked as a prostitute and was sexually assaulted or raped.

A third thought a woman should be held fully or partly responsible if she was drunk and was sexually assaulted or raped.

Around one-fifth thought it would be acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his wife or girlfriend in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public.

Although held by a minority of people questioned, these attitudes can create cultures where offenders feel justified - and where women and girls feel they may in some way "deserve" to be attacked or abused.



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