nia warmly welcomes the recent statements by Women’s Aid (Federation England) and the Women’s Resource Centre about the importance of women-only spaces, particularly for women victim-survivors of sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution.
Being abused by a man, whether a partner, relative, associate or stranger, can have a profound impact on a woman’s well-being. Some women, not all, experience trauma after abuse. Trauma isn’t so much about what is done to you, it’s how your body and mind react to what has been done to you. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s not a choice, it’s not something that women can give themselves a good talking to about and move on. Lots of women need space away from men to process what has been done to them and to begin to rebuild their lives and sense of self. A trauma informed space for women victim-survivors must be single sex.
Too few charities stay political about the causes they were set up to address. It seems that many organisations addressing men’s violence against women and girls have traded their political edge for a placatory or ‘safe’ relationship with the government, statutory organisations, funders and even the media or general public. nia chose not to take this ‘playing-safe approach’ and was – as far as we are aware – the first UK specialist provider of services for women victim-survivors of men’s violence to openly and proudly defend the need for single sex services.
We committed to protecting single-sex services as a strategic priority in 2017, at a time when this was a risky position to take. However, we were, and remain, determined to put the needs of women survivors first. We developed a Prioritising Women Policy as a framework for the provision of services based on utilising the single sex exemptions permissible within the Equality Act 2010. We support and value the work of other organisations who focus on other groups of people, male victims, perpetrators and/or people with transgender identities.
We would like to acknowledge the individual women activists and grassroots organisations, particularly Women’s Place UK, Fair Play for Women and Sex Matters, who, with us, have spoken out for some time in resistance to the threats to women’s sex-based rights and protections when others chose not to do so. We have worked together to create space for other organisations to join us.
We reiterate our support for Women’s Aid (Federation England) and the Women’s Resource Centre in recognising the need for single sex services and stand in solidarity with sister organisations who do the same. We can be proud to put women first. Together we are stronger.