The Campaign for a National Strategy on Intimate Violence Against Men and Boys.
For more detail on all issues mentioned here please read our full Briefing Paper.
What is Intimate Violence Against Men & Boys (IVAMB)
We use IVAMB to describe the full range of 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. These include acts of sexual abuse and sexual violence; domestic and relationship violence; stalking; sexual exploitation; forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence.
Why is a National Strategy on IVAMB necessary?
Under current government policy, male victims of intimate crimes are categorized and considered as victims of ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ (VAWG). Most male survivors and their representative organisations find this situation extremely harmful and hurtful. It marginalizes male survivors, renders them invisible, and conveys a message that they do not matter.
There are also concerns that policies designed around the needs of female survivors, or designed to prevent violence against women and girls, may not always reflect the needs of male survivors, or the nature and circumstances of violence against men and boys.
The inclusion of men and boys in national statistics on ‘VAWG’ crimes creates confusion and misinformation and can have the effect of obscuring the scale and prevalence of sexual and intimate crimes against men and boys, which can create unnecessary difficulties for charities and service providers in accessing funding, which in turn leaves survivors unable to access support.
Can’t there just be one gender-neutral strategy for all survivors?
In a word, no. The UK government is committed both by international treaties and by legal statute to preserving a gendered Violence Against Women strategy to address VAWG crimes. There are ongoing academic and activist debates as to whether this should be the case, but it is a matter of simple fact that it is, and no prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future.
Crucially, however, there is no obligation on the government to include male victims of the same crimes within their VAWG strategy, this has been a political and bureaucratic choice. There are no legal obstacles to establishing a parallel IVAMB strategy at any time, to operate alongside the VAWG strategy.
Just as importantly, very few professionals in the support and recovery sectors working with either male or female survivors of intimate abuse advocate gender-neutral approaches. Most such offences have a lot of strongly gendered elements. So too do programmes of support, awareness and prevention campaigns, and all the other activities which are covered by VAWG (and we hope) IVAMB policies. A gender-inclusive parallelset of strategies has much wider support than a gender-neutral single strategy could ever attract.