Intended for healthcare professionals


Violence against women and girls

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 06 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1926
  1. Heidi Stöckl, professor12,
  2. Zara Quigg, professor3
  1. 1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany
  3. 3Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to: H Stöckl heidi.stoeckl{at}

A preventable pandemic that demands urgent action across government

Violence against women and girls is regularly making headlines in the UK, gaining prominence with the murder of Sarah Everard four months ago.1 The Home Office responded with a new strategy to tackle violence against women and girls that seeks to improve the criminal justice system’s response to rape, strengthening law enforcement and improving support and prevention.2 Is it sufficient to turn the tide?

Violence against women and girls emerged as a shadow pandemic during covid-19, raising awareness that women and girls experience high levels of sexual violence from strangers but also face violence where they should feel safe—in their own homes. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three women worldwide experiences physical or sexual intimate partner or non-partner violence.3 The UK is no exception: around 1.6 million women reported domestic violence in the year …

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