White Ribbon Campaign: Men working to end men’s violence against women

 

  • There were 49,655 incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland recorded in 2007/08 (an increase of just under 2% on the previous year) 8;
  • 54% of cases reported to the police in 2007/08 involved repeat victimisation 9;
  • Women were the victims in 85% of the reported incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland in 2007/08 10;
  • 83% of rapists are known to the woman they rape 11;
  • In 53% of homicide cases in Scotland 15 over the last ten years, where a woman aged 16-69 was the victim, the main accused was the woman in question’s partner 16;
  • A recent Scottish study involving 1,395 young people aged 14-18 found that a third of young men and a sixth of young women thought that using violence in intimate relationships was acceptable under certain circumstances. The same study found that 17% of young women had experienced violence or abuse in their own relationships with a boyfriend 19.
  • The ‘Raising the Issue of Domestic Abuse in School’ Study revealed that 32% of pupils in one secondary school in Scotland disclosed anonymously that they were currently experiencing or living with domestic abuse 20.
  •  

    These horrendous statistics show only the tip of the iceberg that is domestic violence against women in Scotland.  As Chair of the Violence Against Women Forum in East Lothian I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of the White Ribbon Campaign. Yet having found out about it at a seminar I attended yesterday I think this is exactly the kind of thing which could make an impact on reducing the horrendous levels of violence against women in Scotland.

    As part of a range of actions I think the one of the most important things we could do would be to change society’s attitudes – and particularly men’s attitudes – to violence against women. 

    The fact that the White Ribbon Campaign  is focused upon Men Against Violence is a particularly powerful approach and one that I would gladly promote.  To that end I’d like to think we in East Lothian could work towards preparing for the November 25, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women.

    It’s important to state that this is only one strategy amongst many which the Forum are promoting but it is – perhaps – something that I could take a leading role and use my position to particular advantage.

    You can make the pledge at the White Ribbon Scotland.

    Violence Against Women

    I’ve just taken over as Chair of the East Lothian Violence Against Women Forum.  The connection between domestic abuse and issues relating to child protection is very significant at the moment with over 90% of child protection referrals having some reference to domestic abuse in the home.

    Such a statistic made it comparatively easy for me to see this work as an important aspect of my responsibilities – althought here are some who see this to be an adult services issue, as opposed to something which lies under my auspices as Director of Education and Children’s Services.  I suppose I would counter that we need to see the world in a much more inter-connected manner, rather than trying to categorise issues as resting with a single service or organisation.

    My second reason for accepting the invitation to Chair the group is more personal.  I was brought up in the family home which doubled as my father’s surgery – he was a general practitioner.  At regular intervals throughout my childhood my mother and father would bring women and their children into our home to afford protection against the woman’s partner.  I vividly remember one occasion when a hysterical woman turned up at our door on a Sunday morning with her children.  She had a badly bruised face and torn clothing.  My mother took her in – my dad was out on calls – when her partner arrived.  He tried to push his way past my mother to get to his wife but he hadn’t come up against anyone like my mum.  Who blocked the door with her foot and kept calm while she told me to phone the police.  I think I was 9 or 10 at the time.  They eventually arrived and took him away but the incident is indelibly etched on my memory: the fear in the woman’s eyes; the man’s anger and rage; my mother’s resolute refusal to give in to him; and, the fact that this was something that needed the police.

    If I can help in a small way to highlight this issue and to use my role to good effect then it will be a part of my job that will give me huge personal satisfaction.