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Violence Against Women and GirlsWest Dunbartonshire has the fourth highest rate of Domestic Abuse incidents in Scotland (2022-2023). In West Dunbartonshire we have a commitment to improving the service and the responses to Domestic Abuse, and the prevalence of Gender-Based Violence in the area.

The Scottish Government’s definition of Gender-based Violence (GBV) is: 

'Gender based violence is a function of gender inequality, and an abuse of male power and privilege. It takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual, and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. It is men who predominantly carry out such violence, and women who are predominantly the victims of such violence. By referring to violence as 'gender based' this definition highlights the need to understand violence within the context of women's and girl's subordinate status in society. Such violence cannot be understood, therefore, in isolation from the norms, social structure and gender roles within the community, which greatly influence women's vulnerability to violence.'

GBV is often referred to as Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), and this violence includes (but it is not limited to):

  • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, in the community or in institutions, including domestic abuse, rape, and incest.
  • Sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation in any public or private space.
  • Commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution, lap dancing, stripping, pornography and trafficking.
  • Child sexual abuse, including familial sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation and online abuse.
  • So called 'honour based' violence, including dowry related violence, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriages, and 'honour' crimes.

Equally Safe it is the joint Strategy between COSLA and the Scottish Government to prevent and eradicate GBV in Scotland. The Strategy was initially published in 2014, updated in 2016 and refreshed in 2023. The refreshed Strategy takes a public health approach to preventing and eradicating VAWG. This approach uses evidence to prevent and reduce violence and calls for working collaboratively across all sectors to prevent and eradicate GBV.

West Dunbartonshire’s Violence against Women Partnership it is the multiagency mechanism to deliver Equally Safe locally, through working collaboratively to provide support to all victims of GBV and reduce GBV’s prevalence in the area. The Partnership includes Woman’s Aid, Victim Support, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire & Rescue, West Dunbartonshire Criminal Justice and Children and Families Social Work, Housing and Homeless Services, and Education, Adult support services, NHS and other third section organisations and leading Domestic abuse charities.

In West Dunbartonshire, we recognise that the inequality between men and women is the cause and consequence of this violence and abuse and are therefore committed to take a gendered approach with the objective of tackling both. This gendered approach does not exclude men but recognises that women and girls are disproportionately affected by this violence, and that they experience it because they are women and girls, while men are more likely to perpetrate this violence. By taking a gendered approach, we can also ensure that we take into consideration gender stereotypes which may prevent men who suffer domestic abuse or sexual violence from recognising this violence and abuse and seeking support.