The two-child policy for accessing child tax credits is cruel and forces families into poverty, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis. It is appalling that the same policy forces survivors of sexual violence to disclose rape to access essential benefits for themselves and their families. Nobody should be forced to disclose sexual violence to access welfare.
Rape Crisis services have been asked to assist with putting this policy into practice in the past. Rape Crisis Scotland will never be a party to this policy by acting as third-party referrers.
We hope politicians will show bold leadership and stand against this cruel and punitive policy.
The Scottish Government has proposed new laws which would make misogynistic abuse a specific hate crime. We welcome these proposals, and hope they will play a part in ending misogynistic abuse and sexual violence in Scotland.
Our work with survivors shows us just how prevalent misogynistic attitudes and behaviours are in Scotland, time and time again.
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre reports seeing a significant increase in misogynistic abuse and in particular online abuse. This includes cyberstalking, sexual harassment, grooming for exploitation or abuse, ‘revenge porn’, upskirting, sexual extortion, videos of sexual assaults and rapes, rape threats, doxing (publicly publishing women’s personal information), and tech abuse in intimate partnerships.
Women are also subjected to behaviours in public spaces such as being groped or touched inappropriately, being verbally abused or having sexual comments made towards them. There has been a rise in the techniques promoted by ‘pick-up artists’ who suggest that women need to be targeted on their own and repeatedly asked for personal information. The impact of this abuse on survivors can be long lasting and devastating.
Women in Scotland should be free to live without fear of harassment and abuse. It creates a culture of fear and barriers to women and girls fully participating in society.
Many women are taught from childhood to try to protect themselves, to adapt their own behaviour to avoid experiencing this kind of abuse or violence. We hope that these proposals will help to shift the burden of ending this abuse from women to the men who choose to perpetrate it.
The Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group report showed that 93.4% of women who described their experiences of abusive and harassing behaviour didn’t report this to the police. They reported feeling that the police wouldn’t be interested, or it would be considered trivial.
New proposed laws from the Scottish Government would make misogynistic harassment a specific crime. These laws could send a clear signal to women that these behaviours are unacceptable, that this behaviour is not acceptable and will be taken seriously by the criminal justice system.
These laws can only play one part in ending misogynistic abuse. Firstly, we need to see real action taken within Police Scotland so that all women, especially those from minoritised communities, feel able to repot harassment and abuse safely. Secondly, we need to see a fundamental shift in societal attitudes towards women and girls, at all levels.
Our prevention work is a key way we work to try to challenge harmful attitudes and behaviour at an early age, and to stop sexual violence before it begins. Our prevention programme delivers workshops on issues like consent, social media and sexual violence to a range of age groups in schools all across Scotland. We also run the Equally Safe at School programme, which offers schools a toolkit to tackle gender-based violence.
Most rape cases never make it to court. In many cases, this is because of the requirement in Scotland for corroboration. This is particularly a problem for cases of historical abuse.
The Scottish Government’s Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform Bill proposes really significant changes to the way rape and sexual assault cases are dealt with in the justice system. We believe that most of the changes it proposes will benefit survivors.
The Bill contains many proposals including
Our statement on the Funding Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of VAWG Services in Scotland
When we talk about services focused on violence against women and girls, we must remember that we’re talking about truly life saving services. The new Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of VAWG Services in Scotland makes some important recommendations for how these services are funded and delivered, many of which we very much welcome.
- Survivors Can't Wait campaign launches
- Our full response to the Independent Strategic Review of Funding and Commissioning of VAWG Services
- New changes to corroboration rules - an explainer
- Judgment from the High Court of Justiciary Appeal Court on how corroboration is used in Scotland
- Our written evidence on the Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform Bill