Violence towards women 'endemic across society' says Welsh Women's Aid

Violence towards women is "endemic across society" and real social change is needed to tackle the problem, a leading domestic violence organisation has told ITV Wales news.

The murder of Sarah Everard was one of a number of violent deaths that galvanised concerns over women's safety, with thousands sharing their experiences and fears in the aftermath.

And this week, a man appeared in court accused of the "premeditated and predatory" murder of primary school teacher Sabina Nessa, who had set out on a five-minute journey to meet a friend but never arrived.

Other recent murders of women in public spaces include the killings of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

Statistics reveal that so far this year in the UK, 109 women have died in violent circumstances where the suspect or suspects are male.

Sara Kirkpatrick, chief executive of Welsh Women's Aid.

Sara Kirkpatrick, chief executive of Welsh Women's Aid, told ITV News: "What we have to realise is that women lose their lives at the hands of men far more frequently than just Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard. It is endemic across society. We know how big this problem is. What do we do to change it?

"We need real, social change. The recent narrative around how women should protect themselves on the street suggests that the focus is on women to do better to make themselves safer, instead of saying: 'Why do we have a culture that requires women to adapt their behaviour?' What does that say about our streets? We should all be safe to walk on our streets."

A Home Office survey on the handling of violence against women and girls was reopened in the wake of Sarah Everard's murder and received more than 160,000 responses.

For women facing racism and sexism together, the streets feel even more dangerous.

At a meeting in Cardiff on Thursday, Hasminder Aulakh was among the women who came together to understand why.

Hasminder Aulakh said being a woman of colour is 'having two targets on your back'.

Hasminder told ITV News: "If someone is already in the mindset of hatred, they then see a woman of colour and think of it as an opportunity.

"Some people think race doesn’t come into it, all women are attacked - and that is true, being a woman is a crime enough in itself to warrant violence against you. But especially being a woman of colour - it’s having two targets on your back."

Women face the extra fear that if they are Black or Asian, passers-by won’t step in to help.

"It’s quite scary as a woman of colour to think, if I am attacked, who’s going to step in? And if they’re not stepping in, why won’t they step in?"

Ngozi Fulani runs Sistah Space a domestic abuse charity supporting women of African and Caribbean heritage. She told ITV News: "Even in death, racism, rears its ugly head."

Their research found 86% of women of African and/or Caribbean heritage in the UK have either been a victim of domestic abuse or know a family member who has been assaulted. However, only 57% of victims said they would report the abuse to the police.

"There is a culture of not believing stereotyping and just generally ignoring the plight of black women. These are the things that stop black women from reporting domestic abuse."

A recent campaign in Cardiff is aiming to help women feel safer at night. Credit: Cowshed

Meanwhile in Cardiff, a campaign is underway aiming to keep young women safer whilst walking the streets at night.

Thirty-five digital billboards are lighting up the city centre and surrounding student areas, and will run for the duration of Fresher's Fortnight.

The screens will include a QR code, which links to a list of designated 'safe places' - such as local businesses - where those who feel scared or vulnerable can seek immediate help.

A recent report found that 80 per cent of women in the UK revealed that they had been sexually harassed in public - though the true figure could be higher.

Wales' four police forces have pledged to work hard to rebuild trust and to end violence against women and girls.

For more advice and information you can visit the following:

  • Live Fear Free - 0808 80 10 800 - provides help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

  • BAWSO - 08007318147 - provides specialist services to victims and people from BAME communities affected by domestic abuse.

  • Dyn Wales - 0808 801 0321 - for heterosexual, gay, bisexual and trans men who are experiencing domestic abuse from a partner.

  • Respect phoneline - freephone 0808 8024040. Provides help for domestic violence perpetrators, as well as victims.