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A health inequalities perspective on violence against women

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The present paper argues that the physical and mental health consequences of gender-based violence constitute a major public health problem in the UK and a source of significant health inequality. The concept of violence against women is explored alongside brief examples of the mental and physical health impact of this violence. While the impact on women's health is relatively uncontested, the extent to which social divisions such as poverty, class and minority ethnic status create specific vulnerabilities to violence are more controversial. A widely held view within the movement to support survivors within the UK has been that violence against women cuts across class and ethnicity, and is found in all communities and classes. A more nuanced discussion of the way in which poverty and ethnic background may create particular vulnerabilities is explored. Disentangling cause and consequence, and also the barriers to help-seeking for minority ethnic women are discussed. The role of social workers in addressing the way in which violence against women is both ubiquitous but marginal in their caseloads is discussed, and appropriate interventions to respond to health inequality issues are proposed.
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