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What is Violence Against Women (VAW)?

VAW refer to a range of actions that harm, or cause suffering and indignity to, women and young women. These include but are not limited to: physical, sexual and psychological violence in the family, general community or institutions.

This includes domestic abuse, rape, incest and child sexual abuse sexual harassment and intimidation at work and in public commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography and trafficking so called 'honour based' violence, including dowry-related violence, female genital mutilation, forced and child marriages and 'honour' crimes.

What is honour-based violence?

HBV includes: forced marriage, child marriage, in-law and spousal domestic abuse, sexual assault/abuse from in-laws and/or spouse, rape (as ‘revenge’ or through forced marriage), forcing an abortion or pregnancy or not being allowed to control continual pregnancies, degrading/humiliating practices (being treated as a slave/animal), abduction and/or imprisonment, encouraging or assisting suicide of those who have 'shamed' their families, preventing or restricting educational attainment and the learning of English, disfigurement (through acid or 'accident'), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and murder – so called 'honour killings'.

The vast majority of HBV victims/survivors are female.

What is female genital mutilation?

Female Genital Mutilation entails the cutting off of all or part of the labia and clitoris (female sexual organ), and the infibulation (sewing up) of whatever remains to enforce ‘chastity’. It is done without anaesthetic and under non-hygienic conditions, we have anecdotal evidence that this mutilation is done in Scotland as well as abroad.

Many of the women who undergo this procedure have chronic severe pain, internal infections, infertility, constant urinary tract infections, incontinence, and problems with sexuality, marriages, and relationships with their families and children, experience of childbirth and ability to physically exert themselves in any way. In addition women survivors have a 1 in 5 chance of losing a baby during childbirth or in the first two weeks of birth due to complications during the birth.

Many survivors suffer mental health trauma not just from the experience of being mutilated without anaesthetics and by someone without a medical background, with consent from their own mother, but also from the long-term physical side effects of being mutilated.