UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls visits the UK

Date: 12th March 2024
Category: Violence against children, General principles

Women and children

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Ms. Reem Alsalem, made a 10-day visit to the UK in February. During this visit she emphasized that it’s crucial for the UK Government and devolved administrations to take immediate action to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls.

She said that the extensive nature of misogyny and entrenched patriarchy in the UK is a national threat denying countless women and girls their fundamental rights to freedom from fear.

Alsalem highlighted alarming statistics that a woman is killed by a man every three days in the UK, and one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. While acknowledging the UK's legal framework, including the Equality Act 2010, she noted that these measures alone are not sufficient to combat the escalating crisis.

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged that there had been areas of progress – including measures to strengthen the UK legal framework to address various forms of violence against women and girls, including coercive control and digitally facilitated violence. However, she cautioned that the effectiveness of these measures is compromised by several challenges. These include the dilution of the link between policies and the UK's international human rights obligations; a critical discourse on human rights, particularly in relation to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; and the fragmentation of policies on male violence against women and girls across devolved and non-devolved areas.

Ms. Reem Alsalem will present her full report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2025.

In a recent joint letter with Scottish Women’s Aid, Together has encouraged the United Nations Special Rapporteur to reflect on Scotland’s low age of marriage and recent UN Committee on the Rights of the Child calls to increase the age of marriage to 18. The United Nations in its recent recommendation to the UK and devolved governments encouraged them to “Prohibit all marriages under 18 years of age, without exception, in Scotland, Northern Ireland and all Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and the Isle of Man.