Originally created by and for women

The Women’s Aid statement:

Our roots are in the international women’s rights movement, and our federation developed in the 1970s and 1980s in response to patriarchy, sexism, and male violence against women. Domestic abuse organisations and refuges were originally created by and for women – many of whom were survivors themselves – as spaces free from men for safety, healing, mutual support, and solidarity.

We have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic abuse for nearly 50 years. We have done so by placing the needs of survivors at the heart of our work and by responding to their needs and many of our staff, board members and supporters are survivors of domestic abuse. Together with our members, we support women and children experiencing domestic abuse, challenge the root causes of violence, and address women’s experience of intersecting and overlapping systems of oppression.

But that was then. Now it’s been decided that the purported needs of men who identify as women come first.

Today, it is still widely acknowledged by expert service providers that single sex, trauma informed spaces are crucial in providing safe spaces for recovery from abuse and violence for women and their children. However, there is a trend towards gender neutral commissioning of services and its abandonment of commissioning the specialist domestic abuse services which are needed for all parts of the population. A consequence of this is that woman-led, single sex services are losing funding, which results in local communities losing the deep expertise and decades of experience these services provided. This is part of a worrying move by commissioners to disregard the sex-specific nature of domestic abuse.

Additionally, there is an ongoing exchange of different views on the inclusion of trans women in single sex spaces including with commissioners, within feminist movements and organisations, and across society at large.

So they decided to do a clarification.

Our members are a diverse group of organisations providing a range of high-quality support and services. Some members offer support to women and children only, while others support all victims of domestic abuse. Most member organisations deliver at least some women only (single sex) services, most commonly through refuge accommodation and groups.

Members routinely use exceptions within the Equality Act 2010 to provide single sex services. They do this because survivors have told them that they and their children experience trauma responses when in contact with males, particularly at the point of leaving an abusive relationship but also for some time afterwards.

Many members provide responsive and effective community support and emergency accommodation to trans and non-binary survivors. A relatively small number of trans women need to access emergency accommodation. Where they do, some member organisations provide this within their accommodation on a case-by-case basis while others provide alternative dispersed accommodation or signpost to other organisations.

So…let’s punish them, yeah?

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