In June 2014 the Scottish Government and COSLA launched ʻEqually
Safe: Scotlandʼs strategy for preventing and eradicating violence
against women and girlsʼ.
This statement to welcome ʻEqually Safeʼ has been jointly produced by key voluntary sector organisations working across Scotland to tackle gender inequality and male violence against women and girls. These organisations are Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Womenʼs Aid, Scottish Womenʼs Convention, White Ribbon Scotland, Womenʼs Support Project and Zero Tolerance.
The launch of ʻEqually Safeʼ is an important step in taking forward work to tackle violence and abuse. We welcome the continued commitment to support interventions, as well as the explicit acknowledgement that preventing violence against women is dependent upon reducing gender inequality in the broadest sense. This strategy makes it clear that all sectors of society have a responsibility to actively work towards preventing male violence and that prevention and equality measures must be embedded across all sectors.
We welcome the continued commitment from the Scottish Government and COSLA to take action on all forms of violence against women and girls. We know from experience of frontline work that violence can impact on womenʼs lives in multiple and complex ways. Naming the spectrum of violence, and understanding the links between different forms, is essential to both prevention work and to developing effective service responses. It is important that the strategy acknowledges that emerging areas of concern require to be addressed, for example the growth of online abuse including ʻrevenge pornʼ, and harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.
It is also important that the strategy explicitly acknowledges the impact of violence on all women and girls in Scotland and the different risk factors that may affect diverse groups of women and girls and their experiences of and vulnerability to violence. We look forward to the detail of this in the forthcoming action plan. In particular, we feel that refugee and asylum seeking women, and women with insecure immigration status more broadly, should be explicitly recognised in strategic work to tackle and prevent violence against women and girls in Scotland. It is also important that the particular needs of disabled women, lesbian and bisexual women, trans and intersex women, black and minority ethnic women, and older women will also be recognised and included.
We also welcome the inclusion of girls in the strategy, since for females the risk of male violence is indeed present throughout life and, again, effective prevention work and service responses require an understanding as to how experiences of violence at one age can increase vulnerability to further forms of violence, abuse or exploitation. We are hopeful that the inclusion of girls will provide opportunities to support more gendered approaches in child protection work, and to build stronger links between child protection and ʻviolence against womenʼ initiatives.
One of the strengths of the Scottish Governments approach has been, and continues to be, a clear recognition of the gendered nature of issues such as childhood sexual abuse, sexual violence at all ages, commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution, harmful traditional practices and domestic abuse. (See, for example, ʻThe case for a gendered analysis of violence against womenʼ www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/925/0063070.pdf and ʻWhat does gender have to do with violence against womenʼ www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/02/05102715/0)
Taking a gendered approach doesnʼt mean, of course, that boys and men do not experience violence or abuse, or that women never use violence. Violence against boys and men, and violence committed by women, may be less common but it is no less serious when it occurs. Instead a gendered approach acknowledges that females suffer violence and abuse disproportionately, and that it is predominantly males who carry out such violence. A gendered approach recognises the main cause of such violence as being gender inequality, and highlights the need to achieve broad social change in order to effectively end male violence. Lastly a gendered approach provides a framework for planning and delivering services and allows for the development of services that are tailored to suit the differing needs of women and men affected by violence and abuse.
We hope that the strategy will serve to drive forward work to reduce male violence, provide an impetus for mainstreaming of this work, and support new and innovative prevention efforts. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, COSLA, and other partners in implementing the strategy and achieving these aims.
Published: 23rd July 2014
Following the success of last year’s
inaugural Write to End Violence Against Women Awards, which recognises and rewards quality writing on violence against women in Scotland, nominations are now open for 2014.
Journalists, bloggers and students are invited to submit examples of published work for consideration for
the three award categories (Best Article, Best Blog, and Best Student Article).
Third parties are also invited to nominate work that they feel represents quality
VAW reporting in Scotland, as well as shaming bad examples of VAW journalism
for the award’s Wooden Spoon award.
Nominations can be submitted through the awards website: www.writetoendVAW.com
Winning articles will be chosen by a panel of experts including journalists, writers and those working in the violence against women field. The deadline for submissions is 01/10/14, with the winners being announced at parliamentary reception on December 10th 2014 coinciding with the 16 Days of Action To Eliminate Violence Against Women, which takes place between the 25th of November and 10th of December.
Published: 27th May 2014
Crisis Scotland is extremely disappointed that the Justice Committee has been
unable to back the removal of the requirement for corroboration.
National Coordinator Sandie Barton said:
"Too many survivors of sexual crime have been denied access to justice because of the requirement for corroboration. Over the years many survivors have told us how devastating it is when they are informed their case can't be taken to court because of this requirement. We fully support the Government's commitment to improving access to justice and are dismayed that the planned removal of the corroboration requirement has not been backed by the Justice Committee."
The requirement for corroboration has a disproportionate impact on sexual offences because crimes like rape most often happen in private, with no witnesses. Most rape cases never make it to court - Crown Office statistics show that only 25% of rapes reported to the police result in a prosecution. This can have a devastating impact on rape survivors. It also raises the very real possibility of guilty men walking free. Scotland is one of the very few legal jurisdictions to retain the requirement for corroboration.
The burden of proof for rape in Scotland is extremely high – currently, not only do the Crown have to prove and corroborate that sexual intercourse took place and the complainer did not consent to it, they also have to prove and corroborate that the accused knew the complainer wasn’t consenting. As most rapes take place in private, with no witnesses and frequently little if any physical injury, our requirement for corroboration means that our justice system is ill equipped to respond effectively to the reality of rape, where most rapes are carried out not by a stranger but by someone known.
"It is encouraging that the Justice Committee has recognised the need to improve legal responses to rape. We believe that the issue of access to legal advice and support for rape complainers is one which requires urgent attention. However, until the justice system is able to respond to more than the small minority of reported rapes which currently make it to court, rape survivors will continue to feel let down by the Scottish justice system.
The Justice Committee has failed to stand up for survivors of sexual violence.”
For further comment, please contact Sandie Barton or Sandy Brindley on 0141 331 4180 / 07764167501
Published: 6th February 2014
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes Scottish Government plans to drop the requirement for corroboration, but warns that with the proposed increase in the jury majority, action must be taken to reduce the role that misinformation and prejudice may play in jury decision-making.
Published: 21st June 2013
Rape Crisis Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government's proposal to end the requirement for corroboration in Scotland. You can download our press statement here.
Published: 4th September 2012
To coincide with International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, Rape Crisis (England and Wales) and Rape Crisis Scotland have launched their new National Service Standards for Rape Crisis Centres. The standards represent a collaboration between the two national umbrella organisations and are the culmination of a process of research, reflection, consultation and definition spanning five years.
The standards describe in detail what is needed in order to deliver effective specialist sexual violence services. They cover the wider aspects of managing an organisation as well the more specific detail of services to survivors of rape and sexual assault such as the need to provide confidentiality and ensure safety. Please click here for a full press statement.
Rape Crisis Scotland is also publishing for the first time statistics outlining the services provided by rape crisis centres across Scotland. These provide, for the very first time, a picture of the range services offered to survivors of sexual violence throughout the country, and a broad profile of those who are accessing these.
Ten centres participated in the project: Argyll & Bute, Dundee, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Glasgow, Edinburgh (including ELSAS their East Lothian project), Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders and the Western Isles.
72% of callers to Rape Crisis Centre helplines are calling for the first time. The statistics shown give a summary of the support offered by these centres for the period 1 April 2010 – 31 March 2011. It is clear from these figures that there is a significant demand for rape crisis services across the country.
It is important to note that the actual level of support offered by RCCs in Scotland is greater than the figures given here. These figures represent the data from the ten participants of our 13 member centres during the project.* In addition, the actual level of prevalence of sexual violence in Scotland is likely to be far greater than the figures represented here, as many survivors of sexual violence don’t feel able to tell anyone about what has happened to them.
*Statistics for the other three member centres – Aberdeen, Central Scotland and Kilmarnock may be available either from their websites or by contacting the centre directly. Please visit www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk for contact information.
Published: 25th November 2011
We are delighted to report that the Scottish Government has announced its intention to continue funding for violence against women services in Scotland for the coming year.
At the Scottish Government debate on Violence against Women held on 23rd December 2010, Alex Neil the Minister for Housing and Communities, announced that three vital funds will be retained at their current level in the next financial year.
This follows an intensive period of joint campaigning by Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland.
Prior to the announcement it had been thought that many services for women and children would be cut. 40 Women’s Aid groups around the country faced an average loss of 40% of their funding. A number of rape crisis centres were facing the possibility of either closure or severe restriction of their services. These services have now been safeguarded.
The announcement came as very welcome news to Lily Greenan, Manager of Scottish Women’s Aid. She said:
“We have worked closely with Rape Crisis Scotland and with local Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis groups around Scotland over the last few months gathering support for the continuation of this funding from the Scottish Government. Today we are all extremely grateful to the MSPs, local politicians and members of the public who have played their part in making this happen.
“Christmas is the time of year when our services are needed most of all – during the festive season there is a dramatic increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents – so it really could not have come at a better time.”
Sandy Brindley, National Coordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, welcomed the announcement.
“Sexual violence can have a devastating impact and it is crucial that survivors throughout Scotland have access to specialised services. If Scottish Government funding had been lost, rape survivors across Scotland would have found it much more difficult to access support. We believe the provision of support following sexual violence should be a basic right, and we welcome the support for this across the Parliament.”
Although this announcement means that violence against women services will be guaranteed for the year 2011-2012, the future beyond this period continues to be very uncertain, and Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland are anxious to secure a long term funding strategy to ensure the sustainability of vital support services and will continue to work towards this. Lily Greenan said:
“We still have a long way to go to ensure that women and children who experience violence are able to access support wherever and whenever they need it. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government and COSLA over the next few months to find ways to secure the future of these vital services.”
We are very grateful indeed to every MSP who signed the pledge to Save Our Services – you can see a list of these here, and if you share our concern and commitment to their long-term provision, please do get in touch with your local MSP and let them know. You can also see the full press statement issued by Scottish Women's Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland here.
Published: 11th February 2011
Rape Crisis Scotland’s National Helpline celebrated its third anniversary on Monday 11th October 2010. Since the Rape Crisis Scotland helpline was launched on 11th October 2007 it has received a total of 7,792 calls from members of the public. The helpline, which is funded by the Scottish Government, provides initial and crisis support to anyone affected by sexual violence. Helpline workers, who comprise a mixture of paid workers and volunteers, staff the helpline which is open every night of the year between 6pm and midnight.
Described by Rape Crisis Helpline Manager Katy Mathieson as a “lifeline for people who have been through some traumatic experiences”, the helpline has taken a large numbers of calls from a diverse range of people: “We’ve taken calls from people in all sorts of situations, from young women and men, to much older people. Callers have been friends, grandparents, co-workers, and partners, though the majority are from survivors themselves. Sometimes people are calling for support around something that happened a very long time ago – or it might be something that happened just last night or last week – there is no set pattern.”
A comprehensive and intensive programme of training covering everything from legal issues to ritual abuse means that helpline workers are well prepared to support callers in the many difficulties they face. “Prospective helpline workers undertake a very rigorous training programme before they begin working on the line, and we also operate a “buddy” system so that they are well supported as they become more experienced in offering support themselves” says Katy.
Many callers are looking for emotional and practical support to deal with their experiences, while others require legal information or on the ground help locally. The helpline also has a minicom service for Deaf or hard of hearing people, and can arrange for language interpreters for callers whose first language is not English. Support materials and a video introduction to Rape Crisis Scotland and the helpline are also available on the Rape Crisis Scotland website in a range of languages.
The Rape Crisis Scotland National Helpline won the BT/Telephone Helpline Association New Helpline of the Year in 2008, and comments from those who have used the service show clearly the difference it has made to their lives:
“Support was amazing”
“I can now see light at the end of the tunnel”
“I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the helpline”
The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open from 6pm to midnight, seven days a week on 0808 801 0302.
Published: 7th October 2010