Greater Manchester strategy to tackle gender-based violence approved

The ambitious plan to tackle the issue comes as violence against women is once again in the spotlight.

<p>Recent high-profile cases have led to women demanding an end to violence against them </p>

Recent high-profile cases have led to women demanding an end to violence against them

An ambitious strategy to tackle gender-based violence in Greater Manchester has taken a major step forward after being approved by the city-region’s leaders.

The document has been given the thumbs-up following months of consultation between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and partner organisations.

A comprehensive plan to tackle gender-based violence was first unveiled by regional leaders in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard in London.

And the strategy’s latest milestone is passed as the issue is once again in the headlines following the death of Sabina Nessa in the capital city. A man has been arrested on suspicion of her murder.

What is in the strategy?,

The GMCA says it intends to take a whole-system approach to tackling gender-based violence.

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At the same time, though, it acknowledges that most violence of this kind is committed against women and girls and mainly by men and boys.

The strategy looks at how health services, education establishments, the criminal justice system and housing providers can work in partnership to improve the lives and safety of women and girls in the city-region.

Over the next 10 years the GMCA will focus on accountability to victims and survivors, children, and young people and carrying out sustained engagement with the public, employers, and schools, colleges and universities.

A picture of Sarah Everard sits among flowers left at the bandstand on London's Clapham Common where floral tributes were left in her memory (Picture: Ming Yeung/Getty Images)

It wants to be open about what the criminal justice system can and should do for victims and the demands placed on it.

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It has also committed to an integrated housing policy that ensures most victims can stay in their own homes or are swiftly rehoused locally without compromising their tenancy rights and safe and effective interventions with perpetrators that prioritise the protection of victims and survivors.

There will also be a new Gender-Based Violence Board to drive the implementation of the strategy, which will include victims and survivors and organisations that represent them as co-chairs.

It will also have strong links to the Greater Manchester Women and Girls Equality Panel and the Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel.

In addition, there will be a bespoke plan created to address how to effectively meet the needs of male victims and survivors.

This will cover acts of violence, abuse and exploitation in which men or boys are the victims, and in which their gender, sexuality and/or intimate relationships are motivating or prevailing factors.

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What is already happening?

Work is already under way across Greater Manchester to tackle gender-based violence.

The GMCA and the deputy mayor are working with the newly established Sexual Violence Action Network for Students to develop a hard-hitting campaign to challenge behaviours and attitudes and prevent sexual violence and harassment.

Education about unacceptable behaviour is at the heart of driving change, Greater Manchester leaders have said.

Women's Aid is concerned that provision for domestic abuse patients in hospitals remains patchy, and that a major culture change is needed in the NHS.

In July the police ran a dedicated operation to tackle domestic violence and abuse, with some 230 arrests being made.

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The Cut it Out campaign is also being rolled out across Greater Manchester, offering free training to hair and beauty professionals so they know what domestic abuse is and how to recognise the signs of it in their clients to help them get support.

ADViSE, a pilot project supporting sexual health staff to identify and respond to patients affected by domestic violence, is also being launched next month.

Who has been involved in the consultation process?

The strategy has been shaped in following consultation with individuals, professionals, community groups and charities, including ones working with victims and survivors of violence and abuse.

These include the Greater Manchester Women and Girls Equality Panel, the Disability Panel, the Older People’s Network; and a sub-group of the Race Equality Panel.

What has been said about the strategy?

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Greater Manchester leaders have issued strong statements of support for the strategy and spoken of their determination to tackle this issue.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “I want Greater Manchester’s streets, workplaces, schools, universities and homes to be safe for everyone, regardless of gender.

“Nobody should be made to feel unsafe, intimidated or threatened in our city-region and our Gender-Based Violence Strategy aims to make real changes over a 10-year period.

Regional leaders in England, like Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, are valued far more than national politicians by many of the people they serve (Picture: Martin Rickett/pool/Getty Images)

“The first key step in putting the strategy into place is ensuring agencies are working together to improve the services available to victims.

“Another major part of the strategy will be the launch of a sustained public awareness campaign, directed at educating men and boys, to challenge attitudes and behaviours.

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“We will now begin to put our strategy into practise and ask the public to work with us as we put a stop to gender-based violence once and for all.”

Deputy mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice and fire, Bev Hughes, said: “Gender-based violence is a global issue that disproportionately affects women and girls.

“It is deep-rooted in gender inequality and unconscious bias that has developed over generations, and it has far-reaching consequences for communities and society, individuals and their families.

“The everyday experience of women and girls can include harassment, physical and sexual attacks as well as intimidation – enough is enough and we most put a stop to this happening in the future.

Baroness Beverley Hughes. Photo: Martin Rickett/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

“That’s why GMCA has been developing a long-term strategy to end gender-based violence and ensure Greater Manchester can be one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.

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“Our strategy sets out a programme of service delivery to enhance the safety of women and girls, while preventing gender-based violence and challenging the attitudes and inequalities that enable it.”

Groups which have been involved with the consultation and will be on the new board have also spoken about the strategy receiving approval.

Priya Chopra, CEO of Saheli, a charity that supports minortised women affected by domestic violence, said: “At Saheli supporting Black, Asian and minortised women we have been keen to ensure that the issues being faced by women and children from our communities reach the policy makers.

“Inclusion of some of the recommendations of our research report Unequal Regard Unequal Protection written in partnership with other Black and minortised organisations is a big step forward for us.

“We look forward to the development of a strategic group with women of lived experience having a voice and ensuring the strategy and action plan will be inclusive and bring much needed change to protect women and children experiencing domestic and sexual abuse, honour based violence, forced marriage, stalking and harassment.

“We have a long way to go but welcome this initiative by the mayor and deputy mayor.

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“Gender based violence is being prioritised in a collaborative way and strategy needs to ensure those who experience domestic experience abuse and need help are provided with safety, protection and support including migrant women who have no recourse to public funds.”