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'While we are devastated by the verdict, we will not let it define us'

Below is a powerful statement written by the women from the recent court case against former First Minister Alex Salmond.

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The jury has delivered a majority verdict on the charges brought against the former First Minister.

We are devastated by the verdict. However it is our fervent hope that as a society we can move forward in our understanding of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

In defending Alex Salmond, Gordon Jackson quoted Woman H and said his client should have been a ‘better man’.  

He said behaviour which others described as demeaning, intimidating and humiliating, was ‘trivial’.

The behaviours that Alex Salmond and his defence team admitted to in evidence were not and are not trivial.

Today we want to send a strong and indisputable message that such behaviours should not be tolerated – by any person, in any position, under any circumstances. 

This has been a traumatic process however we thank Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for taking our experiences seriously and for allowing our voices to be heard.

Many of us did speak up at the time of our incidents but were faced with procedures that could not deal with complaints against such a powerful figure.

Others were silenced by fear of repercussions.

It was our hope, as individuals, that through coming forward at this time we could achieve justice and enact change.

We remain firm in our belief that coming forward to report our experiences and concerns was the right thing to do.

But it is clear we alone cannot achieve the change we seek.  

The outcome of this trial will pose many questions and be cause for much debate.

But as politicians, commentators and society reflect on this case, we would ask you to consider whether behaviour which is so often merely described as ‘inappropriate’ or is tolerated by society, is acceptable towards your daughters, granddaughters, sisters, wives, friends, and colleagues.

Many of them will already have suffered such conduct. Often in silence.

We would also request that as you debate, you conduct it respectfully and stay mindful of the many women in Scotland who may have had traumatic experiences and are considering whether or not Scotland is a country in which they can come forward to seek help and support.

This is more important now than ever before.

All people should feel safe, valued and equal in society and their workplace and it is imperative to ensure robust complaint structures are in place.

We should all take strength in calling out bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault wherever it takes place.

And we should all seek to create an environment in which people can challenge and report these behaviours without hesitation or fear of retribution.

Some say that women’s fight for respect has gone ‘too far’. We argue it has far to go.

For too long, behaviour which should be condemned has been accepted and excused.

For too long perpetrators in positions of power have been shielded by their ability to influence and intimidate.  

For too long women’s complaints have been dismissed or swept under the carpet.  

And for too long, women have been let down by organisational structures which should exist to protect them, not put them in situations which endanger their welfare.

This must end.

To those who have spoken out in support – thank you, we see you.

While we are devastated by the verdict, we will not let it define us.

We hope through shining a light on our experiences, it will serve to protect and empower women in the future.

Be brave, be loud, be heard.

Signed,

Woman A, Woman B, Woman C, Woman D, Woman F, Woman, G, Woman H, Woman J, Woman K

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Sandy Brindley, Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland said:

“This is a powerful and important statement that we know will resonate with many people in Scotland and beyond.

“More than a statement it is an urgent call for an examination of our attitudes towards sexual harassment in Scotland, a call for the end to the minimisation and trivialisation and a call for change.

“For too long these behaviours have been tolerated and accommodated and this cannot stand any longer. Enough.

“These women are brave, and we stand with them and hope that their voices are heard.”

Journalists: Please remember that this letter is absolutely NOT an invitation to contact any of the women individually - if you have any further questions or queries please direct them to Rape Crisis Scotland.

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