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Blog | International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women '21

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women '21

This blog is dedicated to the women of the Survivor Reference Group who so powerfully shared their stories in the Scottish Parliament yesterday. Thank you for your courage and determination. Your belief in a better world is inspiring.

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and marks the start of 16 Days of Action. It’s been a year like no other, a year that feels as though it has both flown past and dragged and one where our collective resilience has been tested like never before.

It’s been a hard year for most of us, an impossible one for many, and whilst the impacts of Covid continue to be acutely felt the launch of yet another 16 Days of Action invites reflection.

It’s been a painful year for survivors of sexual violence and abuse. At times the public conversation has felt more like an onslaught with relentless coverage of violence and abuse. The tragic murders of Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard and Esther Brown sparked nationwide conversations about women’s safety and our right to live free from the constant fear and threat of sexual violence. Survivors have spoken bravely and powerfully about their experiences and called for change.

Why would we act with anything other than urgency to address the trauma and pain that is inflicted upon survivors by a system that too often lets them down? Tired arguments that it has always been done this way have been reeled out by some to protect a justice system that does not adequately protect survivors.

It is right to mark the progress that has been made, but there is still so much to do.

Yesterday the Survivor Reference Group and Miss M met with members of the Criminal Justice Committee at the Scottish Parliament and spoke powerfully about what needs to change. They highlighted that these conversations are not new, that the problems we face are not inevitable and that reports and recommendations have been released for years putting forward solutions. These are critically important, powerful conversations, and ones that Rape Crisis Scotland will continue to facilitate and drive.

But as the women who spoke yesterday so articulately set out, we cannot conflate conversations with action. Inaction is dangerous, inaction is killing and harming women, and all survivors of sexual violence.

So as the Scottish Parliament falls silent at 11.30 to remember those women whose lives have been lost to male violence we ask that they then consider what action they can take here and now. We ask them to commit to hear the voices of survivors and meet their demands for urgency. This is a fight that is going to take all of us.

This International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women we remember those who did not survive. Those whose names we'll never know. We pay tribute to Rape Crisis workers and volunteers across Scotland who work every day to support and advocate for survivors of sexual violence, and we thank all those across the world who are fighting for a safe and equal world for all women.

We stand in solidarity with survivors this day and every day.

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