Review to tackle laws on violence against women

A REVIEW of the justice system is to be carried out as part of a blueprint aimed at ending violence against women.

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A new Scottish Crime & Justice Survey reveals that 17% of women have been the victims of domestic abuse since the age of 16
A new Scottish Crime & Justice Survey reveals that 17% of women have been the victims of domestic abuse since the age of 16

The new Equally Safe strategy, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, sets out to tackle all forms of violence suffered by females, including domestic abuse, rape, sexual harassment and stalking.

It also deals with the sexual exploitation of women in human trafficking and prostitution, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

As part of the Scottish Government's plans there will be a comprehensive review of the country's criminal justice system, which will look at the laws on sexual offences and domestic abuse to see if the legislation reflects the true experience of victims of long-term abuse, or if new criminal offences need to be created.

The strategy has been developed by the Scottish Government and the local authority group Cosla, together with others including Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Police Scotland, and calls for a society which "embraces equality and mutual respect, and rejects all forms of violence against women and girls."

New figures show that 6% of adults have been a victim of stalking or harassment in the last year.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey also found 4% of women had suffered at least one incident of serious sexual abuse since they were 16, compared to 1% of men.

While 3% of both men and women said they had been abused by their partner in some way in the last 12 months, 17% of women have been the victim of domestic abuse since the age of 16, compared to 10% of men.

Equalities minister Shona Robison said: "Undoubtedly this is an ambitious strategy but to aspire to anything less is unacceptable.

"No woman or girl in our society should be subject to violence or abuse of any kind, whether physical or non-physical.

"It is our plan to eradicate violence against women and work to create a strong and flourishing Scotland where everyone can feel equally safe and respected.

"There are, however, no quick fixes to this deep-rooted problem.

"We need significant social, cultural and attitudinal change over the long-term.

Scotland's top police officer, Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, said the new strategy "provides the cornerstone for a national response" and added: "I look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure the successful implementation of the priorities and key objectives outlined within it."

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