Violence against women still too high

Tuesday November 30th 2021

Midlothian Council Fairfield House Main

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer has been highlighted as an example of why more needs to be done to stop attacks against women and girls.

Midlothian councillors were asked to support the development of a new strategy to tackle and ‘eradicate’ violence against females at a meeting of its cabinet today.

And elected members were told the murder of the marketing executive who was kidnapped from the street in London in March, served as a reminder of the dangers facing women and girls in society.

Joan Tranent, the council’s chief social work officer, said: “The high profile case of Sarah Everard has shown that further changes are still required to protect women and girls.”

A report asking cabinet members to agree to a new strategy said that one women is killed every three days in the United Kingdom.

It said: “Over recent years, public awareness and rejection of violence against women has grown across Scotland, the United Kingdom and internationally.

“This has seen an increase in demand for specialist services for survivors as well as for perpetrators and importantly an increase in demand for culture change to achieve gender equality and respect for the rights of women and girls, which would bring about the end of gender based violence.

“This year the pressing need for systems change has been highlighted through the circumstances of the murder of Sarah Everard and many other women, as well as the pervasiveness of rape culture among young people.”

The report highlighted the Everyone’s Invited website which has seen thousands of survivors of rape and sexual assault share their stories anonymously.

And it pointed to the ongoing annual 16 Days of Activism campaign to end gender- based violence which runs from November 25 to December 10 this year with the 2021 campaign call to action #WhatWillYOUDo?

Asked how the new strategy would be monitored and its impact assessed, Ms Tranent said that training would be rolled out to ensure all members of the council are made aware of the policy.

She said: “The time is right to build on our good work to date and develop a high level Midlothian strategy to ensure that our area becomes equally safe for women and girls.

“This strategy will enable the council management team to consider the dual focus of improving gender equality and eradicating violence against women and girls across all areas of policy and practice.”

Cabinet agreed unanimously to commit the council to develop an ambitious Midlothian Equally Safe Strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls.

Councillor Stephen Curran said: “We do need to do everything we can to eradicate violence against women and girls and men have a role to play.”

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