Over the past few years there has been a surge of political and research interest in violence against women. This has brought the issue into the spotlight and a very recent editorial in The Lancet (2015) has pointed out that as the problem of violence against women and girls is elevated in global policy circles, the activists who put the issue on the map in the first place are being left out of important discussions. The editorial argues that women’s voices are critical because they know the emerging issues and they can ensure that policy and service developments remain responsive to the needs of women and girls.
There is now indubitable evidence for the economic, social, health and personal costs of all forms of violence against women - such as trafficking, female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage and domestic violence and abuse. Nurses have a key role in recognising and responding to women who have experienced violence, and in my own area of research (domestic violence and abuse) their crucial role has been highlighted (Taylor et al. 2013, Bradbury-Jones et al. 2014). As testimony to the relevance of violence against women for nursing, JAN has created this blog. It is no coincidence that the blog coincides with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2015 campaign, which for the first time ever, has prevention as its theme.
The aim of the 16 Days of Activism campaign is to eradicate violence against women; violence is not inevitable, most is preventable (The Lancet 2015). Over the recent days of the activism campaign, there are two issues that come to the fore: listening to women’s voices and focusing on prevention. The accompanying image for this blog is a collage created by women who had experienced domestic violence and abuse. The wings of empowerment and feeling free from within, are strong representations of women’s fight for freedom. Translated into priorities for nursing research, listening to women’s voices and focusing on prevention can form the bedrock of good quality research. No studies regarding violence against women should be done in the absence of women themselves; it is inherently empowering to be heard. Additionally, most violence is preventable and knowing this should strengthen our efforts to eradicate it. Women can be free of violence, and focusing on prevention gives nursing research purpose and direction.
Bradbury-Jones, C., Taylor, J., Kroll, T. & Duncan, F. (2014) Domestic Abuse Awareness and Recognition among Primary Healthcare Professionals and Abused Women: a qualitative investigation. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23, 3057-68.
Taylor, J., Bradbury-Jones, C., Kroll, T. & Duncan, F. (2013) Health Professionals’ Beliefs about Domestic Abuse and the issue of Disclosure: A Critical Incident Technique Study. Health & Social Care in the Community, 21(5), 489-499.
The Lancet (2015) Violence against women and girls: how far have we come? [Editorial]. The Lancet, 386, 2029.
Caroline Bradbury-Jones is Reader in Nursing at the University of Birmingham, England. She has a clinical background in nursing, midwifery and health visiting. Her primary research interest is in domestic violence and abuse and more specifically, public health interventions and responses to the issue. Caroline is an Associate Editor for the international journal Child Abuse Review and sits on the Board of Trustees for the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect (BASPCAN).