Country Visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Presented by Merve Tiregul

Recent data spanning from March 2020 to June 2021 further highlights this disparity, indicating that black women were 14% less likely to be referred to Refuge for assistance by the police compared to their white counterparts who are survivors of domestic abuse. 2 The data implies a systematic failure by the police to adequately support Black women against domestic abuse. According to Victim Support’s research in 2022, victims of domestic abuse, particularly from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds, often face dismissal and marginalisation by the police. The study found that nearly half of Black and ethnic minority respondents felt that the police treated them differently due to their heritage. Over half of all respondents reported instances of domestic abuse multiple times before receiving appropriate police action, with almost a quarter needing to report three times or more. Despite increased reports of domestic abuse, recent data from the Office for National Statistics shows an 8% rise in related offences, underlining the urgent need for improved support and response mechanisms for victims. 3

According to a 2020 survey conducted in the UK, Black, minoritised women, and non-binary individuals were more prone to experiencing online violence during COVID-19, with many reporting worsened abuse during the pandemic. This emphasises the necessity of adopting responses that incorporate an intersectional perspective. 46% of the participants indicated they had encountered online abuse since the onset of COVID-19. This percentage rose to 50% among Black and minoritised women and nonbinary individuals. Among survey participants who encountered online abuse in the year prior to the survey, 29% noted that it intensified during the COVID-19 period. Black and minoritised women and non-binary individuals were disproportionately affected, with 38% indicating that the pandemic contributed to heightened online violence. Gender emerged as the most frequently cited reason for online abuse, with 48% reporting gender-based abuse, followed by 21% for abuse related to gender identity and sexual orientation, 18% for ethnicity, 10% for religion, and 7% for disability. Black and minoritised individuals were almost as likely to face abuse based on ethnicity as they were on gender, with 46% reporting gender-based abuse and 43% reporting ethnicity-based abuse. Additionally, they were more prone to religious-based abuse compared to white respondents. 4

In England, since September 2020, Relationships Education has been mandatory for all primary school pupils, while Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) has been compulsory for secondary pupils, alongside Health Education for all students in state-funded schools. RSE curriculum encompasses crucial topics such as sexual consent, exploitation, abuse, grooming, harassment, rape, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and domestic abuse, aiming to equip students with the knowledge to navigate current and future relationships. In primary schools, comprehensive sex and relationships education can empower children to stay safe by fostering confidence in seeking help, understanding bodily autonomy, and providing appropriate language for discussing private body parts. 15

The UK recently updated the Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum requirements in Northern Ireland. The new curriculum will include age-appropriate, comprehensive, and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The education will provide factual information on preventing pregnancy, abortion rights, and accessing relevant services without advocating a particular stance. 16

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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash


2 Refuge. (2021, September 30). Ahead of Black History Month, Refuge calls for better protection for Black women experiencing domestic abuse. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from
3 Victim Support. (2022, December 1). New research shows police failing to act on domestic abuse reports – ethnic minority victims worst affected. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from
4 End Violence Against Women. (2020). The ripple effect: COVID-19 and the epidemic of online abuse. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from

15 Female genital mutilation: resource pack. (2023). Retrieved January 30, 2024, from
16 New requirements for Relationship and Sexuality Education curriculum in Northern Ireland. (2023). Retrieved January 30, 2024, from

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