Welsh Women’s Aid promotes an intersectional approach, recognising the unique experiences of survivors of abuse and the ways in which difference and disadvantage may help or hinder access to support, safety and justice. Difference such as age, sex, gender, class, ethnicity, ability and sexuality intersect to inform lived experiences and these factors can further reinforce conditions of inequality and exclusion. This means that sex and gender-based violence can also be connected to factors such as ethnicity, age, class, disability and sexuality. Specialist services are committed to anti-discriminatory practice and to address the intersecting inequalities experienced by women and men, when delivering support services.
Welsh Women’s Aid’s transgender policy (updated in 2016) commits to supporting the realisation of rights for trans people, and the delivery of trans inclusive services and support, on the basis of self- identification. In Britain, more than a quarter of trans people in a relationship in the last year faced domestic abuse from a partner. Specialist services in Wales receive policy guidance, training and support to ensure trans people who have experienced abuse are supported to access services that best meet their needs. This means that anyone identifying as needing women-only or men-only support services (e.g. refuges) or as needing any form of support and advocacy in the community, should be offered a service that meets their need for support to access safety and to recover from abuse.
Welsh Women’s Aid recognises that all forms of violence against women share characteristics that are linked to gendered social norms and expectations. Providing a gender-responsive service that is sensitive to the gendered dynamics of violence is a crucial component of specialist services. As such, this includes offering women-only services where needed, providing safe spaces that are only accessed by women, and putting all survivors of abuse at the centre of the response provided.
Welsh Women’s Aid recognises the global and national evidence that perpetrators of violence towards women and men are, in the vast majority of cases, men, and that violence against women, including domestic abuse and sexual violence, is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men. Victimisation and perpetration of such abuse reflects and reproduces the gender order, and is a fundamental barrier to achieving equality between women and men.
Welsh Women’s Aid supports the continuing need for the provision of specialist services that offer women-only or BME-only support, which is vital to alleviating violence against women, as a form of discrimination, and which is lawful under the Equality Act 2010. This doesn’t detract from the need for support, safety and justice for all survivors of abuse.
Welsh Women’s Aid welcomes proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act to ensure that current processes to change birth certificates and other identity documents operate as smoothly as possible without pathologising or discriminating against trans people. We are committed to working with our sister umbrella organisations in the UK and with other equality organisations in Wales to ensure that any new processes are appropriate, fair and have no unintended consequences. Trans people’s rights and women’s rights are human rights which intersect, and we stand united against our shared experiences of misogyny and male violence. We support the need for full discussion about the impact of proposed reforms and for consultation with women’s services, including on how proposals will impact on existing exemptions which allow for single sex services and on the need for disaggregated data to monitor sex and gender-based discrimination.