Domestic abuse action plan to be extended in Scotland

'For as long as inequality exists so too will the harassment, abuse and violence that women experience'

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Sunday 25 November 2018 01:25
Women's Aid release advert showcasing extent of domestic violence

An action plan to address domestic violence against women in Scotland which includes measures to teach school children the significance of consent and healthy relationships is to be expanded.

The Equally Safe strategy was launched last year and hinged on the idea of tackling perpetrators and intervening early to stop violence and maximise the safety and wellbeing of women and children.

The Scottish government has drawn attention to actions taken and schemes to be expanded as part of a United Nations campaign of 16 days of activism around violence against women.

The Caledonian Programme that works with men convicted of domestic abuse-related offences is to be extended to help cut re-offending and the Rape Crisis Sexual Violence Prevention Programme will also be rolled out in more schools.

This comes after it was announced specialist rape and sexual abuse support services will receive a £800,000, or 10 per cent, boost to help more victims across England and Wales earlier this month.

“The UN campaign provides an opportunity to focus on violence against women and girls, which remains a very real problem in societies across the world,” equalities minister Christina McKelvie, said.

“Along with other ministers, I will be taking part in a number of events over the 16 days to highlight the actions being taken to tackle this issue.

“Our progress report provides evidence of the work undertaken so far and the work planned for the future.

“This includes running a campaign to raise awareness of coercive control and domestic abuse to coincide with the implementation of the Domestic Abuse Act, and convening a roundtable on what more can be done to tackle online abuse and misogyny.

“We are determined to work with others to create a Scotland to be proud of, where all of our citizens are Equally Safe and violence against women and girls is consigned to history.”

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “One woman experiencing domestic abuse is one too many.

“To know that across Scotland there are many thousands living in fear is not something as a country that we can tolerate or accept.

“Sixteen Days of Action is an international campaign with an important message. A message that each and every one of us can and should be part of the movement to end violence against women and girls.

“Though we have come a long way – and in many ways Scotland leads in efforts to eliminate violence against women – we have a long way to go before women’s equality is achieved.

“For as long as that inequality exists so too will the harassment, abuse and violence that we experience. And so too will the work of Scottish Women’s Aid, and the wider sector, so that women in Scotland have equal opportunity to explore all their ambitions and aspirations, and live their lives free from fear, violence and abuse.”

The extension comes after a new pilot scheme was launched last month which sees police inform a child’s school about domestic violence incidents at their family home.

Councils and schools will be told before lessons start the next day to enable them to help and support the child.

Gwent Police in Wales is trialling the scheme which was first set up by a primary school head teacher in Cornwall and her husband who is a former police officer in 2011.

Every week in the UK, two women are murdered by a partner or ex-partner.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last week show that from April 2014 to March 2017, 239 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner. All but one of the suspects were male.

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Domestic violence charity Women’s Aid identifies domestic abuse as a “gendered crime” – saying that while both men and women may experience incidents of interpersonal violence and abuse, women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of abuse, including sexual violence.

“Women experience higher rates of repeated victimisation and are much more likely to be seriously hurt or killed than male victims of domestic abuse,” the charity explains on its website. “Further to that, women are more likely to experience higher levels of fear and are more likely to be subjected to coercive and controlling behaviours.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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