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Maree Todd warns gender-based violence is 'endemic' as she pays tribute to local support services

By Alan Hendry

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Maree Todd says the Scottish Government is seeking to eliminate violence against women and girls.
Maree Todd says the Scottish Government is seeking to eliminate violence against women and girls.

North MSP Maree Todd has warned that gender-based violence is "endemic" in the Highlands and across Scotland, with the number of domestic abuse incidents in the region having more than doubled in the past decade.

Ms Todd highlighted the "life-saving and life-changing" work carried out by local support services as she pledged her support to 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence – a global campaign running from November 25 until December 10.

She paid tribute to organisations such as Caithness and Sutherland Women's Aid (CASWA), Ross-shire Women's Aid and RASASH (Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland) which provide vital help in the north.

Ms Todd, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “Gender-based violence is endemic throughout Scotland, including across the Highlands.

"Recent figures suggest the number of domestic abuse incidents in the Highlands has more than doubled in 10 years. And these are only reported incidents – we know that countless cases will go unreported.

“We are fortunate to have a range of fantastic support services throughout the Highlands, including the Ross-shire and Caithness and Sutherland Women’s Aid centres in my constituency. We will forever be indebted to the amazing team of staff and volunteers across these services for their life-saving and life-changing work.

“If you are being affected by domestic abuse, please reach out to report your experience and seek support.”

Ms Todd pointed out that the Scottish Government continues to fund a range of services to tackle violence against women and to support survivors of such violence. Honouring its "first 100 days" commitment, £5 million of new funding was directed toward rape crisis centres and domestic abuse services to help cut waiting times earlier this year, following an increase in demand on services due to Covid-19.

That funding came on top of £5.75 million allocated in 2020/21 to help redesign frontline services to ensure they are best equipped to handle the added pressures of the pandemic.

“The 16 Days of Activism campaign is an opportunity to reflect on the action required to prevent and eradicate gender-based violence and a reminder that we must also challenge the outdated gender stereotypes and societal attitudes towards women and girls that enable it to continue," Ms Todd said.

“The Scottish Government’s Equally Safe strategy has a strong focus on advancing gender equality and tackling the underlying attitudes that create the societal conditions for gender-based violence to flourish.

“The Scottish Government continues to work on realising the aims and ambitions of this strategy to eliminate violence against women and girls."

As previously reported, CASWA is a partner in a Highland-wide continuation of the #ChangeHerStory campaign which seeks to turn thought into action.

CASWA team leader Donna Mackay said: “Taking part in 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is a powerful stance which shows the women, children and young people whom we support that CASWA and the Caithness and Sutherland community stand in solidarity with them.

"We can all play a role in eliminating violence against women and girls."

CASWA can be contacted on 0345 408 0151, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, or through www.caswa.org.uk

Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is 0800 027 1234 (24/7).

CASWA’s social media accounts are Facebook @CaithnessAndSutherlandWomensAid and Instagram @caswa_womensaid

Hashtags being used are #caswa16days #whatwillyoudo #lightup #caswabookfairyproject #caswawalkamileintheirshoes and #orangetheworld

Donations can be made via the CASWA website.

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