25 November marks the beginning of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and, in recognition of this period, Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur is supporting advocacy group Zero Tolerance’s campaign.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
Despite the progress visible as Scotland continues to strive for equality, violence against women is still alarmingly high, with more than one in three women experiencing violence in their lifetime.
A total of 59,541 cases of domestic abuse were reported in 2017-18, where 82% of survivors were women. There were also 12,487 sexual crimes, including rape and attempted rape, reported to Police Scotland during the same period.
Gender-based violence is extremely harmful to women and girls. Survivors can suffer long-lasting and severe physical and psychological problems, leaving a lifelong scar for many women. Scotland spends an average £4 billion a year coping with the aftermath of violence against women.
Recognising the beginning of this period of activism, local SNP MSP Tom Arthur is highlighting calls for inclusivity and primary prevention, which focuses on mitigating violence from occurring in the first place.
Primary prevention includes actions such as challenging the condoning of violence against women; promoting women’s independence and decision-making in public life and relationships; challenging gender stereotypes and roles; and normalizing gender equality in public and private life.
As part of ongoing efforts to combat gender-based violence, Mr Arthur has also supported the work of White Ribbon Scotland, a charity working to end male violence against women.
The organisation recently conducted a campaign in betting shops across Scotland, asking men to sign a pledge “never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women in all its forms.” These campaigns are not about stigmatising men, the vast majority of whom would never contemplate violence against women, but rather encouraging men to take a stand against domestic abuse.
This particular campaign has resulted in over 4,200 signed pledges being obtained from seven areas across Scotland with over 1,000 of these coming from the Renfrewshire Area.
Commenting, Tom Arthur MSP said:
“Violence against women is intolerable in all cases. I will do everything in my power to reduce violence to the appropriate amount: zero.”
“Changing our attitudes towards how society treats women is essential. The #MeToo Movement has been a catalyst for change, but we still have a long way to go.”
“Organisations like Zero Tolerance and White Ribbon Scotland have done an exceptional job in changing hearts and minds in the fight against gender-based violence and I will continue to support these efforts.”
Davy Thompson, Campaign Director for White Ribbon Scotland, added:
“This period of time highlights the need for us all to do what we can to address violence against women. White Ribbon Scotland emphasises the role men can play in changing the attitudes and behaviour which tend to condone it by encouraging men who oppose it to speak up and let their opposition be clearly understood.
“We need a society where the majority, including men, make it known that they demand change and will challenge sexism and abuse. We are delighted to have Tom Arthur as one of our Ambassadors helping to lead this change.”