We’re thrilled to announce that Rape Crisis Centres across Scotland will benefit from an investment of £2.25 million of funding from the Scottish Government to help address waiting lists for specialist support.
We know from survivors that the impact of waiting lists can be devastating. Seeking support after sexual violence is often a very difficult thing to do, to finally find a service with people who get it, and who meet you with compassion and care only to be told that you must wait months to receive support can be an immensely difficult thing to come to terms with.
No-one should ever have to wait to access support that is often described to us by survivors as lifesaving. For many years we’ve been campaigning to raise awareness about the impact of waiting lists, and for Rape Crisis centres to be resourced to be able to support survivors at the point of need. This is a step in the right direction.
This funding - in conjunction with the new Delivering Equally Safe fund – is a very welcome and much-needed investment in local Rape Crisis services, but our approach must be sustainable. It is only through a strategic and coordinated approach that we will be able to make sure that that survivors across Scotland are able to access the support they deserve, at the point of need.
On the impact of waiting lists a member of the Survivor Reference Group said:
"I was left to find my support after being raped. I never imagined that I would be in that position or how difficult it would be to find support for what we all know to be a horrific trauma. When I was met with a lack of support and understanding from my GP and no private counsellors offering counselling for trauma, Rape Crisis was my lifeline. The catch to that was that the rope thrown by them to bring me back to shore was far too long.
I waited for over a year to finally get the help that I needed. The help that undoubtedly saved my life.
I do not think that people understand that you are effectively treated as a witness in the criminal justice system, so there is little support available to you beyond signposting. You are alone in the bubble of the process and the services of Rape Crisis are invaluable.
The need for access to specialists in a reasonable timeframe cannot be overstated. It undoubtedly saves lives and ensures a quality of life for survivors by helping them start to heal."
We are shocked and deeply saddened at the news that Emma Ritch, Chair of our Board of Trustees has died.
Emma was a committed, passionate and witty feminist and advocate for women and girls in Scotland, Europe and beyond. She devoted her life to working for true equality for women and girls and we are incredibly proud and grateful that she chose to spend so much of her time with us at Rape Crisis Scotland.
Emma joined our Board in 2011 and this time she has made an extraordinary impact on the work of our organisation, and in the feminist movement in Scotland as a whole. Emma led with conviction and determination and a resolute belief that social, political and economic equality for women is something that can be achieved; we will continue this work in her memory. She was a friend and a colleague, and we will miss her.
Our thoughts are with Emma’s partner and loved ones, colleagues at Engender and all who knew her at this difficult time.
Figures released by the Scottish Government in May 2021 revealed that almost a quarter of trials for rape or attempted rape result in a Not Proven verdict.
Only 43% of rape and attempted rape trials result in a conviction, compared to an 88% overall conviction rate. In 2019-20 there were 2,343 rapes and attempted rapes reported to the police, but only 300 prosecutions and just 130 convictions.
Rape Crisis Scotland releases report on privacy rights for complainers of sexual offences in Scotland
Reporting sexual crime and going through the resulting
criminal justice processes can be a daunting process.
Of particular concern to survivors of sexual crime is the prospect of their sexual history or personal aspects of their lives being brought up in court. There have been some key decisions by the courts in recent years which have highlighted the rights of complainers to privacy and raised important questions about how we assist complainers to assert these rights.
This report brings together key considerations and recommendations from a roundtable held in November 2020 which brought together agencies and academics to consider the question of whether complainers should have greater rights to legal representation when their privacy rights are at stake. The report recommends that consideration be given to introducing independent legal representation for complainers where applications are made to introduce their sexual history or character.
Today we are launching our Holyrood 2021 Asks:
a range of important measures to bring real
and lasting improvements for
survivors of sexual violence in Scotland.
We urge all politicians to commit to taking these forward so that the kind of change that is so badly needed can become a reality.