“Despite our best efforts to eliminate men’s violence against women and girls from society, it remains a daily occurrence.”

In Wednesday’s Orkney News we reported on the rise in reported incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland. Rise in Recorded Domestic Abuse Incidents in Scotland

Orkney Constituency MSP, Liam McArthur, LibDem has commented on the “important progress” which has been made to local arrangements that have allowed adult survivors of rape and sexual assault to access forensic assessments in the islands.

The Scottish Parliament debated ‘Gender Based Violence’ on 30th of November 2021 and in that debate Liam McArthur noted that there was still “work still to be done” in Orkney to ensure similar support is available for young survivors of abuse who continue to have to travel to the Scottish mainland for examination.

Ash Regan, Minster for Community Safety in the Scottish Government opened the debate. She said:

“The justice system has historically been designed around the needs of men and not women. I think that we all agree that women deserve better, and I am pleased to be leading new work to develop a strategic approach to women in the justice system. That work will invest in developing an evidence base to demonstrate how experience of the justice system differs depending on gender and intersectionality.

“It will improve outcomes for women and build a case for system change where women are being failed. It will align with efforts to tackle the systemic inequality and disadvantage that women experience, which have been made worse by the pandemic.

“Despite our best efforts to eliminate men’s violence against women and girls from society, it remains a daily occurrence. We must work relentlessly to challenge all the behaviours that facilitate and enable it. My vision is of a Scotland where women and girls are treated with respect, not one where we turn a blind eye to things such as abuse, violence and sex trafficking. I am determined to work across this Parliament and with our stakeholders to realise that vision.”

During the debate Liam McArthur raised the important work being done by Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service (ORSAS), Women’s Aid and Police Scotland. He said:

“At a local level, arrangements are now in place to allow forensic assessments to be made without adult survivors having to travel south for examinations. I pay warm tribute to Orkney Rape & Sexual Assault Service—ORSAS—Women’s Aid Orkney, NHS Orkney and Police Scotland and others, including the justice secretary’s predecessors, who made that possible. We now need to apply the same approach to younger survivors of assault.”

Commenting after the debate Liam McArthur said:

“For too long, victims of rape or sexual violence in Orkney had no choice but to travel south for forensic examination, often adding to the trauma they already felt.  Important progress has since been achieved with a local service successfully put in place for adult survivors.

“I want to put on record my thanks to all those who helped to bring this about.  It was not straightforward, but determination and a willingness to think creatively allowed the service to be implemented locally.

“However, it is all the more important now that similar support is available to younger survivors of abuse, who still need to travel to the Scottish mainland for forensic assessment.  I appreciate this may be more complex, but it should be seen as a fundamental right.”

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. 

UN Women
credit Elif Gulec