In response to a written question from Henry Smith MP about the classification of male rape survivors as ‘victims of violence against women and girls’, the Safeguarding Minister Sarah Dines MP made claims which require a immediate response.
The Minister said:
“We recognise the term VAWG cannot, and should not, negate the experiences of male victims.”
We find it absurd and somewhat insulting that the government claims to ‘recognise’ the term VAWG cannot and should not negate the experiences of male victims, when it very clearly and self-evidently does.
Members of the Men and Boys Coalition and many of our associates from across the male survivor support sector have explained repeatedly to Home Office staff and ministers that using the term ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ to describe crimes against male victims of rape, domestic abuse and other similar crimes is exclusionary, deeply offensive and actively harmful to the support and recovery of men and boys affected by these terrible crimes. It also creates confusion and contradictions in policy making and data collection and so is often problematic for female victims and survivors of these crimes, and for the organisations that support them.
On November 16th 2022, on behalf of 16 leading charities and academics specialising in supporting male victims and survivors, we wrote to the Minister and to her colleague the Home Secretary.
Our letter explained why including male victims in the national strategy on Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls is harmful, offensive and leads to inadequate provision of care and protection, and urged the government to adopt the recommendations in the recent report by the APPG On Issues Affecting Men and Boys.
To date we have received no response. We would like to reiterate that we would be delighted to meet with the Minister and the Home Secretary at any time to explain our position and work with government and officials to develop alternative definitions and strategic approaches to supporting male victims, and we hope to hear from her soon.