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Dr Jude Towers

Senior Teaching Associate, Senior Research Associate

Jude Towers


Tel: +44 1524 594175

Research overview

My research is concerned with aetiologies of violence and is situated within the emerging field of ‘violence and society’ which understands violence to be central to the analysis of social relations and not reducible to other social processes. I am interested in variations in different forms of violence in developing theories of causal pathways of violence: to what extent these are shared or differentiated and specific. Integral to this is the measurement of violence, the identification and analysis of new sources of data, and the development of new mechanisms to capture data on new and old forms of violence. 


Current Research

Gender Dimension of Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation

Our inter-disciplinary, multi-institutional, international team of researchers led by Prof Sylvia Walby won the European Commission tender to produce a report on the Gender Dimension of Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation (European Commission HOME/2013/ISEC/PR/041-A2). The report will identify and analyse the gender dimensions of trafficking in human beings with the aim of producing recommendations to develop more effective policies to eradicate these practices.  It will achieve this through a review of the international literature on the nature of trafficking in human beings and information as to policy interventions and by generating case study examples of best practice. 

The need for comparable and robust statistics on trafficking in human beings for the purposes of evidence-based policy development, identifying and tracking trends and patterns in human trafficking, and for evaluating interventions to combat and prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation is well recognised. There is a significant quantity of statistical data contained within reports, legislation, intervention projects, evaluations and scholarly publications on human trafficking, produced by a myriad of different sources. Nevertheless, despite this growing body of work there is no single source of reliable and comparable statistical information on trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Thus my contribution to the report (working with Prof Brian Francis) is the development of a database which contains all the current statistical data on trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation and which takes account of the gendered dimensions of the trafficking, by analysing the gendered nature of the statistical data.

The task is subdivided into two: firstly compiling all the scholarly and grey literature that contains statistical data which has estimated the scale of trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitaion. Secondly compiling all the scholarly and grey literature which contains statistical data evaluating the impact of interventions to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation, with a particular focus on the 'Nordic' and 'German/Dutch' models of prostitution/sex work. This statistical data will then be extracted into a single database.

To ensure that the gendered dimensions of trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation are taken into account, we will use 15 gendered dimensions against which the data and data sources will be evaluated: gender neutral or gender sensitive; gender equality principles and their implementation; gender equality and fundamental rights; gender and intersecting inequalities; gender expertise; gender balance in decision-making; gendered policy fields; competing priorities of differently gendered policy fields; violence against women; prostitution/sex work; crime and the gendering of criminal justice strategies; security and the gendering of security strategies; gendered forms and flows across the Internet and social media; gendered economy and employment; and gender regimes.

Career Details

Commencing immediately after the submission of my PhD, I was the (named) Senior Research Associate on an 18 month (2013/14) ESRC-funded Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) grant entitled: Is the Rate of Domestic Violence Decreasing or Increasing? A Re-analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

The SDAI programme is intended to deliver high impact policy and practitioner relevant research through the exploitation of the major data resources created by the ESRC and other agencies and held by the UK Data Service.

Using the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the SDAI project mapped the trajectory of domestic violent crime (violence against the person and sexual assaults) in England and Wales between its peak in 1994 to 2013/14 (the most recently available sweep of the CSEW). The trajectory of domestic violent crime was then compared for women and for men; and to the trajectories of violent crimes committed by other types of perpetrators (acquaintances and strangers) and to the trajectories of all forms of violent crime against women and against men recorded by the CSEW.

The project developed new techniques for measuring violent crime using the CSEW: counting all violent crimes reported to the face-to-face victim form module of the survey (not capping crimes as is the current practice of the ONS) and utilising three year moving averages in order to account for the volatility of small numbers of high frequency victims in survey sweeps. We also employed segmented regression modelling to map the trajectories of different forms of violent crimes rather than point-to-point comparisons (the current ONS technique for measuring trends)

The Principal Investigator on the project was Prof Sylvia Walby (http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/sociology/profiles/Sylvia-Walby/) and the Co-Investigator was Prof Brian Francis (http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~asabjf).

Following the 18 month ESRC SDAI project, a further six months (as Senior Research Associate) was devoted to extending the research on the question of the current trajectories of violent crime in England and Wales and writing up the findings from the SDAI project for publication.

From April 2015 I started working full time as part of an international team on the European Commission funded project: Gender Dimensions of Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation described in detail under ‘Current Research’).

Current Teaching

Violence and Society: Part II Sociology Undergraduate module. Seminar tutor; guest lectures; first marker; office hour.

Gender and Violence: Sociology MA module. Guest lecture; second marker.

Thesis Outline

Economic Inequality and Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: An Analysis of the British Crime Survey 2008/09


My PhD research examines how economic inequality is associated with intimate partner violence against women. It finds working-age women in England and Wales with fewer economic resources are more likely to experience intimate partner violence compared to women with comparatively greater economic resources. Economic inequality is conceived as the disparity in economic resources across a population. This therefore links the empirical findings to the wider concept. The main conclusion drawn from the research is that economic inequality is associated with increased likelihood of intimate partner violence against women.

My PhD extends previous work on this question by considering a greater range of resources, in conjunction with one another, across three units of analysis (individual, household and neighbourhood). It also specifically examines how economic inequality is related to remaining in, and exiting from, recently violent relationships for women from the same population.

Analysis is conducted on a representative sample of 12,920 working-age women in the British Crime Survey 2008/09 (re-named the Crime Survey for England and Wales from April 2012). The process of critically analysing the choice of data source and measure of intimate partner violence is essential. It ensures that the empirical findings are robust and that conclusions drawn are framed by the strengths, but also any limitations, of these choices. 

One set of key findings is that not all economic resources are of equal importance in association with intimate partner violence. From this research housing tenure is identified as the most important economic resource in association with intimate partner violence against working-age women. In addition, women’s occupational status appears to be more significant than current employment status. In this research, as in previous research, women’s earned income is found to be an important associate with intimate partner violence. However, the relationship between earned income, other economic resources and whether women remain in or have exited from recently violent relationships is found to be extremely complex, much more so than has typically been found in previous studies. 

Considering economic resources across three units of analysis enabled the interconnections between them to be explored. This reveals the importance of household, compared to individual and neighbourhood, economic resources. This is because, in this research, women’s household structure, whether single-adult female headed, living with violent partner or living with new (non-violent) partner, was found to be the key factor in unpicking the associations between economic inequality, intimate partner violence against women and whether women remained in or had exited recently violent relationships. 

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