Measuring violence
against women in order
to improve policy
Sylvia Walby
UNESCO Chair in Gender Research
Lancaster University
[email protected]
 Measurement, indicators and policy
 What are indicators?
 Indicators of extent and severity
How to measure in surveys
 Indicators of impact
 Cost?
 Indicators of policy performance
 What information?
 What has been achieved? What next?
Measurement, indicators and
policy development
 Lots of well-intentioned new policy
 But do they work?
 Need robust information that is
comparable over time in order to
evaluate policy developments
 Why indicators?
 Key link between policy and statistics
 To simplify complex information
 To assess if there is progress
 Criteria for selection
 Unambiguous and easy to interpret
 Enable an assessment of progress or not
 Neither so many as to confuse, nor so few as to
 Capable of support by reliable data that is
comparable over time
 Do not create perverse incentives
Indicators of extent and severity
 Inclusive scope of types of violence, but not so
specialised as to prevent comparison between countries
Meaningful measurement of the extent of the violence:
both prevalence and number of incidents;
Meaningful measurement of severity of violence
Consistent time period: both a longer period e.g. life-time
and a more recent period, e.g. last year
Consistent population sub-set, e.g. age
Consistent with indicators in adjacent fields, so as to
facilitate the mainstreaming of violence against women
into mainstream data collection and policy development,
while still being sensitive to the nuances in the specific
field of violence against women.
 ‘Femicide’ has the advantage of power and
 Derived from administrative sources so useful
addition to survey data
 But very few countries if any collect data that
distinguishes between homicide that is genderbased from that which is not
Technical issues of definition and practice to
 Premature, but worth developing.
Incidents and/or prevalence in
intimate partner violence
 Prevalence: rate (%) of violence against
women in the female population
 Incidents: number of incidents of
violence against women per unit (e.g.
100, or 1,000) of female population
Intimate partner violence:
incidents and gender (UK, BCS)
% against Ratio:
Average number
incidents per victim
Total incidents
Gender implications of different
 Prevalence is the least gender asymmetrical indicator
 Number of incidents more gender asymmetrical than
 domestic violence prevalence: 4% women, 2% men
 average no. incidents of dv.: women 20, men 7
 incidents dv: 12.9 million against women, 2.4m men
 DV one incident: 28% women, 47% men
 Injuries more gender asymmetrical than no. of incidents,
since women more likely to be injured than men in each.
 Minor force, 49% women 36% men sustain physical
 Severe force, 77% women 56% men sustain physical
Indicator: Number of incidents of
intimate partner violence
 Advantages
 Does not produce spurious gender symmetry when
men are asked the same questions
 Easier to mainstream into adjacent policy fields
which use number of incidents - essential for
 Disadvantages
 Not in common use in VAW community which
prefers to focus on the underlying ‘course of
 Recommend:
 Priority use of ‘incidents’; also use prevalence as a
secondary indicator
Measuring extent of gender-based
 Administrative statistics?
 Most
incidents not reported to services
 Reporting categories obscure gender-based
e.g. domestic violence rarely a ‘crime’
category, nor a ‘diagnostic code’ in health
 Large scale survey
But is only reliable source of data on extent
Measuring extent of gender-based
violence e.g. British Crime Survey
 Domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking
 Self-completion module
additional to main face-to-face interviews
Confidentiality produces 5 times higher rate of
 Sample:
nationally representative
Men as well as women
Aged 16-59
Indicators of impact
 Impact in its own terms: violence, abuse,
pain and suffering
 Impact as a violation of women’s human
 Impact as a crime
 Impact as a detriment to health
 Impact as a cost to society
Why measure the cost?
 Domestic violence has devastating impact
 Justice and fairness a sufficient basis for policy
 Drains resources of society as well as abused
 A financial dimension increases the ways
policies are articulated, measured and
 Facilitates comparison with other policies in
spending decisions
 Mainstreams gender into mainline policy
 Evidence base for policy making
Cost of domestic violence in
Britain: Methodological framework
 Domestic violence (including domestic rape) in Britain
 Framework based on Home Office Research Study 217
by Brand and Price 2000 on the cost of crime
 Developed so as to include specific costs related to
domestic violence e.g. housing and refuges, social
services, civil legal services.
 Information needs
Extent, nature and impact of domestic violence
Costs of services, lost economic output, and public’s
willingness-to-pay to avoid human costs of pain and
Actual level of service use e.g. from reports from service
Types of Cost
Use of services, often public services
Criminal justice system
Health care
Social services
Housing and refuges
Civil legal services (including legal aid)
Lost economic output, e.g. time off sick
Human cost of pain and suffering,
based on public’s willingness-to-pay
Criminal Justice System
 Cost: £1 billion
 24% of cost of CJS for violent incidents
 8% of total cost of CJS
 Basis of estimate:
 Number of violent crimes recorded by police
 London Met cross-classification of offences by dv
or not
 ‘Non-crime domestic incidents’ recorded by police
 Domestic homicide: data from Criminal Statistics
 Cost of each type of incident, HO estimates
 Flows and costs model for courts etc
 Police recorded time use in diaries
Health Care
 Cost £1.4 billion
£1.2 billion physical injuries,
£176 million mental care e.g. depression
 Estimates based on:
 DfT estimates of medical care costs of
injuries, used by HO
 Crime and injury association, HO practice
Increased service use for mental health
(e.g. depression) associated with
domestic violence
Social Services and Children
 Cost £.25 billion
 Primarily for children caught up in co-
occurrence of domestic violence and
child abuse
 Estimates based on
PSSRU data on social service costs for
children in need and being looked after
40% co-occurrence of domestic violence
and child abuse finding from other studies
Housing and refuges
 Cost £.16 billion
 Housing those made homeless due to
domestic violence
Local Housing Authority (+SL) costs,
estimates from CIPFA
 Refuges
 Housing benefit: LHA and refuges
 Loss of owner occupied housing
 Moving home
Civil Legal Costs
 £.3 billion
 Half state (especially legal aid), half individual
 Specialist legal actions e.g. injunctions to
restrain or expel a violent partner
 Legal actions for divorce and separation plus
associated child custody, finances.
 Estimates based on
Judicial Statistics Lord Chancellors’ Dept
Legal Services Commission (legal aid)
Legal Aid Board Research Unit research
Economic Output
 Cost £2.7 billion
Half employer, half employee
 Cost of time off work due to injuries
 Based on
 DfT estimates for losses associated with
 Injuries associated with crimes, following
HO practice
Number of people from British Crime
Survey (Walby and Allen 2004)
Human and emotional costs
 £17 billion
 Based on
Public’s ‘willingness-to-pay’ to avoid the
pain and human suffering of injuries
DfT estimates for costs associated with
injuries, as associated with crimes and
used by HO
Number of people from the British Crime
Survey (Walby and Allen 2004)
Total cost
 Total Cost: £23 billion a year
 State, £3.1 billion, for public services
 Lost economic output £1.3 billion by
employers, £1.3 billion by individuals
 Human and emotional costs, £17 billion
Indicators of policy
 Performance of services in prevention,
protection and provision of support
State duty; is there a national plan?
 Measure availability and quality of services
 E.g. is the legal framework adequate? How many
refuge places? Sexual assault services exist?
 Measure use of services?
 Do they know whether people are using because of
gbv (e.g. health)?
 Monitor impact of services
 Develop indicators of best quantity and quality
of each service and total service provision
What has been achieved?
What next?
 Measurement of extent
Many EU countries have had one survey, but very few
have a series that measures changes over time
EU-wide survey of gender-based violence?
Some discussion only
Agreement on indicators of extent?
Suggested, not implemented: insufficient survey data
 Measurement of impact: cost?
Only a few countries; no EU-wide.
 Measurement of policy performance
Some targets for some basic services in some countries
Some national plans
Only just started
Two Reports
Sylvia Walby and Jonathan Allen (2004) Domestic
Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: Findings
from the British Crime Survey. Home Office
Research Study 276.
Sylvia Walby (2004) The Cost of Domestic Violence
DTI Women and Equality Unit.

walby - Women Against Violence Europe