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What is violence against women?


We view violence against women as gender-based violence. This analysis recognises that one of the fundamental causes of violence against women is the unequal power relations between men and women, which lead to discrimination.

Gender based violence against women is violence directed against a woman because she is a woman or violence that affects women disproportionately.


This approach is consistent with the Scottish Government’s definition of violence against women:

"… we define violence against women as actions which harm or cause suffering or indignity to women and children, where those carrying out the actions are mainly men and where women and children are predominantly the victims. The different forms of violence against women - including emotional, psychological, sexual and physical abuse, coercion and constraints - are interlinked. They have their roots in gender inequality and are therefore understood as gender-based violence"

In accordance with this definition, violence against women includes:

  • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, within the general community or in institutions, including: domestic abuse, rape, incest and child sexual abuse;
  • Sexual harassment and intimidation at work and in the public sphere; commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution, pornography and trafficking;
  • Dowry related violence;
  • Female genital mutilation;
  • Forced and child marriages;
  • Honour crimes.
  • Commercial sexual exploitation including activities such as pornography, prostitution, stripping, lap dancing, pole dancing and table dancing

Read the full Scottish Government definition in 'Safer Lives: Changed Lives, a shared approach to tackling violence against women in Scotland'. This framework published in June 2009 aims to provide a shared understanding and approach to guide the work of all partners to tackle violence against women in Scotland.