We welcome elements of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government announced yesterday.
It is good to see movement on issues relating to survivors of sexual violence that Rape Crisis Scotland have long advocated for, however we would argue that in some areas it does not go far enough.
Many of these commitments are long overdue and we must make sure that these ambitions are not just words, but that they translate into material improvements in the lives and experiences of survivors in Scotland.
We’re especially pleased to see:
- Commitment to consult on the removal of the Not Proven Verdict
- Introduction of legislation to protect the anonymity of all complainers of sexual crimes under Scots law
- Recognition of the importance of specialist services, and commitment to supporting frontline services – this must be sustainable
- Investment in services to support male victims of sexual violence
- Independent review looking at gender-based violence within education and best practice
- Exploration of reform of corroboration, and further conversation about the impact of this
- Recognition of the retraumatising impact of the justice system on many survivors of sexual violence, and development of trauma informed framework to address this.
It’s also positive to see that recommendations from the Dorrian Review (more on this here) are to be given serious consideration. If implemented, these recommendations would improve the landscape of justice in Scotland, reduce the impact of seeking justice on survivors of sexual violence and help Scotland to become a more compassionate and just country, something that we all want to see.
As a priority, we are calling for a commitment to full implementation of the recommendations of the Dorrian Review, with associated timescales.
Rape, sexual assault and abuse are not inevitable, and we are not powerless in our efforts to prevent it from happening and in ensuring that all survivors, no matter what happened or when, are met with compassion and an appropriate response. It is the very least that survivors in Scotland deserve.