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Violence against women

Violence against women – inside and outside the home

There is growing awareness of the crimes of violence, inside and outside the home.  Soroptimists campaign to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

We know that violence in the home harms women in particular and causes great distress to families.  Woking Soroptimists raise awareness about this locally. We also support Your Sanctuary, the charity in Surrey that helps all those who have suffered domestic abuse.

The SI Woking special group manages our action in this area.  In particular, we will raise awareness about violence against women by making the 25th day of each month an Orange the World day in addition to the United Nations 16 Days of Activism.  Look out for the orange ribbons we will be wearing!

The Lobbying Group raises awareness about specific aspects of this issue, such as the recent proposal to make ‘downblousing’ a criminal offence.

Latest news

February 2023

A member of parliament has suggested that sexual harassment in a public place should be an offence. The UK Government supports this idea.  A new proposed law will now be discussed in parliament.  When the new law is approved and applied, there will be harsher punishment for people who commit the offence

June 2022

Expressing the trauma

Liaise Women’s Centre in Woking, which does excellent work with vulnerable women, recently organised workshops for women who had experienced abuse. Here are some examples.  From left to right: ‘I saw but could do nothing’, ‘My hair was their weapon’, ‘My face was his target’.  The pictures were shown at the recent ‘Tea and Temptations’ event.


May 2022

SI Woking & District contributed to a study of the way the new special Domestic Abuse Courts (SDAC) are working in Surrey.  Several members of SI Woking & District have been trained as observers during the sessions of these courts in Surrey.  The observers reported on the operation of the courts from end April to September 2022.  A report of the findings will be published.  It will make recommendations for improving the courts.  It will be sent to all the organisations involved.

This poster give details of the new courts.  It describes the aims of the courts and the input of Soroptimists.

The poster will be presented at the 2023 Soroptimist International Conference in Dublin.

November 2021 – 16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days of Activism are a United Nations imitative to counter violence against women.  Each year, the 16 days start in November and end on 10 December, Human Rights Day.  Soroptimists ‘orange the world’ during this time to raise awareness.  Almost every day we hear of women being hurt or killed.

Changes to the law in England and Wales

These proposed changes will hopefully eliminate some of the problems women encounter:

The government has taken additional measure to help victims with housing.  Local authorities must cooperate to offer social housing to people fleeing the marital home.

Parliament has debated and approved a proposal to change the law on marriage age.  At the moment, people can marry when they are 16 years old.  But this will be changed to 18 years in the new law.

Parliament has also approved a ban on virginity tests.  Read the BBC report here

The UK government is about  to publish a new law: the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.  The bill talks about how the police should deal with complaints from rape victims.  One particular change is that victims will have up to two years – not just six months! – to make a complaint to the police.

May 2021

The government has enacted the new law on domestic abuse

It is based on the government’s new strategy to combat violence against women and girls.  Find more about this here.  Victims’ Commission Vera Baird thinks that the bill will not treat rape victims properly.  She proposes different wording to deal with the problem.  Go to the Office of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales for more information.

The Centre for Women’s Justice also wrote an opinion about the bill.

Your Sanctuary


June 2021

The Head of Children’s Services at Your Sanctuary came to talk to us in June.  She explained the multiple challenges that children face when they are caught up in a difficult family situation.  The help children receive at Your Sanctuary is tailored to their age and experience.  This essential work is delicate and complex, and calls for good cooperation between many agencies.    A positive recent development is the opening of additional and better accommodation for Surrey families in need.

October 2020

Your Sanctuary said that the impact of Covid 19 was a 61% increase in domestic abuse.  53% of children saw more abuse at home.  78% of domestic abuse survivors thought that the pandemic made it harder to escape from domestic abuse.

These shocking statistics meant that specialist services like Your Sanctuary were working at capacity and beyond.  For example, the Your Sanctuary helpline received 250 calls in June 2019.  In June 2020, the number jumped to 445 calls!  And calls for space in a refuge went from 20 to 60!  Between February and April 2020, the chatline was used twice as much as before!!!

You can help

Regular donations are especially useful at this time and you can give items for Your Sanctuary to sell on Ebay.  More suggestions:

Why do Woking Soroptimists help Your Sanctuary?

Formerly the Women’s Aid Refuge, yourSanctuary has been in Surrey for many years, helping to protect people, especially women and children, from domestic violence.  Your Sanctuary offers practical help, including safe places to say and counselling.  An especially important part of their work is the Children’s Service, with a trained children’s mental health worker and a trained outreach officer.

Your Sanctuary needs practical help and funds so that it can give the help victims need.

Your Sanctuary also needs volunteers. If you are interested, contact WAVS (Woking Volunteer Services) at

How do we help?

We raise funds and  awareness for Your Sanctuary.

Our October 2022 fundraiser led to a donation of over £750 to Your Sanctuary.

We helped Your Sanctuary during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.  In April 2020, we gave £600 to Your Sanctuary.  We knew that  the restrictions on everyday life due to the lockdown could lead to more domestic violence .  So we wanted to help Your Sanctuary to meet the increased call on its services.  We also knew there would be less money to spend on essential services because grants have been cut and no fundraising was possible during lockdown.

We also give practical help

The victims of domestic violence need many kinds of help.  They not only need psychological, medical and legal assistance, they often need very practical help.  They may turn to Your Sanctuary in an emergency and arrive with very few personal belongings.


We collect toiletries that are given out as emergency supplies.  Here are the body and hair care products we donated in December 2021:






Help we have given in the past

  • In 2022, our member Julie and her friend arranged a donation of Beanie Babies to Your Sanctuary.  Some were sold to raise funds. Many made stressed children very happy.  SI Woking & District also gave a decorated  Christmas tree .
  • In 2021, body and hair care products were in demand.
  • In 2020,  we gave over 40 tea towels, a DVD player, kitchen towel, hair conditioner and anti-bacterial products.
  • In 2019 , two of our members recently stepped down as Trustees, having served for over nine years. A members sold books in her garden during the Horsell Garden Safari and raised £110 for your Sanctuary
  • In April 2017, we donated a further £100 to Your Sanctuary.
  • During 2013-14 we raised £500.  Your Sanctuary used the money to organise a summer outing for the families they were helping.  We were pleased to have made such a rare and popular treat possible.
  • Our Charity Bridge Afternoon in October 2016 was a joint fundraiser with SI Weybridge. We gave £633 to Your Sanctuary’s telephone helpline – in 2015 it took 2,000 calls.
  • Our Pig-Racing event with SI Weybridge in 2015 raised £720
  • With other SI Clubs in Southern England, we developed a bookmark about what makes a relationship healthy or  unhealthy.
  • Woking Soroptimists regularly help Woking Borough Council to distribute  literature in the town during Domestic Abuse Awareness Week in October.

Modern Slavery

Women can be trafficked or manipulated into sexual slavery.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom

See also the Modern Slavery Act 2015.