Foreword To The VAWG Strategy

Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) affects us all. Whilst this may not be clear from the title, VAWG is part of daily life, and those affected have no choice in their involvement. But everyone should be concerned by this because the type of abuse VAWG encompasses can victimise anyone, irrespective of sex, gender identity, age, race or ethnicity, religion or faith, or ability. VAWG affects more people than is understood and tackling this issue is everyone’s business – not just an issue for women and girls.

We know that VAWG doesn’t occur in a vacuum and begins with a belief that some people are less worthy than others and that it is acceptable to treat them as such. We urgently need to change this narrative. Only by challenging misogyny and sexism, and by reporting abuse, can we tackle the root cause of violence against women and girls and ensure Bexley is a safe place for everyone. We must stop accepting acts of gendered violence as the norm; we must increase the awareness and confidence of those affected to ensure both victims and witnesses have the skills and resilience to challenge and report VAWG, and we must ensure that the message to perpetrators is clear: that their behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated.

This Strategy sets out how we will collaborate with our community and professional partners to support them and to protect those around them from such harm. It is important that we recognise that our biggest challenge - reframing behaviour and addressing personal biases around gender - is beyond the scope of what a Council can do on its own. These challenges require the shared knowledge, talent and ideas of residents, voluntary and community groups and other partners - all working together to nurture an environment where VAWG is not welcome and where victims and survivors are seen and supported. Everyone is affected by VAWG - directly or indirectly - and we all have a part to play in tackling and eradicating it.

The Bexley Community Safety Partnership (BCSP) has been conducting work related to public safety, domestic abuse, and serious violence, all of which are relevant to tackling VAWG. But now, the BCSP is able to identify and prioritise VAWG as a standalone issue, informed by evidence. Our focus will be on tackling gender-based violence in public and private spaces, ensuring all forms of violence against women and girls are recognised and eradicated, and putting in place trauma-informed support for victims and survivors.

The multi-agency Bexley Community Safety Partnership will not be complacent on this issue and will continue to commit to prioritising this area of work to protect our residents and ensure that Bexley continues to be one of London’s safest boroughs.

Councillor Sue Gower MBE, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, and Chair of the Bexley Community Safety Partnership

Councillor Sue Gower MBE, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, and Chair of the Bexley Community Safety Partnership