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Safer Lives: Changed Lives: A Shared Approach to Tackling Violence Against Women in Scotland



3.1 National Performance Framework and Policy Context

Work to address the causes and consequences of violence against women is necessary to achieve the national outcomes:

We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger.

We have tackled significant inequalities in Scottish society.

We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk.

Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.

We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.

Our approach complements and interacts with a suite of Government policy agendas which aim to improve the lives, experiences and opportunities of children, families and communities. Included in these are Action on Violence in Scotland, Respect & Responsibility and Getting it right for every child which underpins the National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People.

Crucially, taking forward our shared approach will contribute to enabling the civic and societal changes described in the suite of Frameworks - Achieving our Potential, Early Years and Equally Well - which underpin our shared commitment to eradicating inequality and discrimination in Scotland.

3.2 Gender Equality Duty

Just as we recognise that violence against women is a consequence of continuing inequality between men and women, so it is also a barrier to achieving equality. The tools available to lever change in gender equality are therefore integrally relevant to tackling violence against women.

Our approach is set firmly within the context of the Gender Equality Duty, which expects all public bodies to have due regard to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. The Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC) has made it clear that, as part of its function to monitor public bodies on their compliance with the Duty, it will take into account actions which authorities and agencies undertake to address violence against women.

It has been thought by some that the Gender Equality Duty means gender specific services cannot be provided or that all services have to be open to both men and women. This is not the case. Where the evidence demonstrates a particular need for gender specific services then it is entirely consistent with the Gender Equality Duty to provide them. It is important that authorities and agencies understand the requirements of and the opportunities provided by the Gender Equality Duty to advance work to combat violence against women, and that this is included in training for staff.

3.3 Ministerial Priorities for Gender Equality

Ministers have a responsibility under the Gender Equality Duty to identify priorities for achieving gender equality on which they will provide some leadership across the public sector. They are also required to report on progress on these priorities in 2010 .

3.4 International context

The United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ( CEDAW) and the Global Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 link this approach to tackling violence against women with commitments made by the UK Government.

CEDAW is an international convention adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. CEDAW is one of the most highly ratified international human rights conventions, having the support of 185 State parties. It was ratified by the UK in 1986.

CEDAW is a powerful tool for articulating, advocating, and monitoring women's human rights. The Convention's enforcement is monitored through a reporting system mechanism used to keep an eye on government accountability within the respective country and at the United Nations.

The Platform for Action reaffirms the fundamental principle that the human rights of women and of the girl child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. As an agenda for action, the Platform seeks to promote and protect the full enjoyment of all human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all women throughout their lives.

In addition, there is the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which entered into force in the UK on 1 April 2009, and the 'Palermo Protocol', formally the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. This is a protocol to the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime.

Recommendation Rec(2002)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the protection of women against violence was adopted on 30 April 2002.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) is an international human rights treaty that grants all children and young people (aged 17 and under) a comprehensive set of rights. The convention gives children and young people over 40 substantive rights. These include the right to:

  • Special protection measures from all forms of physical and mental violence including sexual abuse and exploitation;
  • Access to services such as education and health care;
  • Develop their personalities, abilities and talents to the fullest potential;
  • Grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding;
  • Be informed about and participate in achieving their rights in an accessible and active manner.

All of the rights in the convention apply to all children and young people without discrimination. The principles, values and core components of Getting it right for every child are based on the UNCRC.

The Scottish Government has endorsed the World Health Organisation framework for governmental action on violence, as a public health approach can provide some strategic context.