The Scottish Government Consultation on the draft Delivery Plan for 'Equally Safe: Scotland's strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls' ran from 23 March 2017 to 30 June 2017. There were 89 responses: 77 from organisations and 12 from individuals. This summarises the analysis of responses.
Most respondents were generally supportive of the Delivery Plan and what it was trying to achieve (between 59% and 67% agreed with the actions listed). However respondents suggested a number of ways to improve the Delivery Plan. When asked what was missing, many of the same themes recurred:
- Who it should cover – More emphasis on intersectionality / additional vulnerabilities faced by women with certain protected characteristics; greater emphasis on children, and clarity that both boys and girls are covered by the plan.
- What it should cover – Criticism that the plan focussed too much on domestic abuse, rather than the full spectrum of violence against women. In particular it was felt that stronger actions were required around commercial sexual exploitation ( CSE), whilst childhood sexual abuse and stalking were not mentioned at all.
- Greater need for engagement and partnership working. Too often the SG alone was listed in the "who" column for taking actions forward.
- Delivery of the plan – Need: management of the delivery plan and ensuring that action happens at a local level; sustained funding and resources; linking the delivery plan to other SG policies, strategies and UN conventions; monitoring and evaluation.
- Wording of the plan – actions could be stronger and clearer, and more medium and long term actions could be included.
Priority 1 - Scottish society embraces equality and mutual respect, and rejects all forms of violence against women and girls
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents agreed that the actions listed under priority one were the right ones, 12% disagreed and around a quarter (23%) neither agreed nor disagreed.
The most agreed with action was developing a holistic approach towards addressing gender stereotypes and norms in schools. Respondents felt it was important to address gender stereotypes early in life, and recognised the key role of schools in supporting this.
The most disagreed with action was the 'Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme' ( MVP). Respondents were generally supportive of its aims, but did not believe it should be singled out when there were other similar programmes available.
Suggestions for what was missing from Priority 1:
- Importance of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education ( RSHPE)
- Say more on prevention/ include wider prevention programmes beyond MVP, and roll MVP out further / fund for longer
- Higher education institutions need to do more to tackle Violence Against Women ( VAW)
- The role of the media, including social media, online and advertising
Priority 2: Women and girls thrive as equal citizens: socially, culturally, economically and politically
Around two-thirds (67%) of respondents agreed that the actions listed under priority two were the right ones, 14% disagreed and one-fifth (20%) said that they neither agreed nor disagreed.
The proposal for delivering split payments under Universal Credit was the most supported action, as it was noted that financial abuse and control can be part of the domestic abuse women experience, and that lack of access to finances can act as a barrier to women leaving abusive relationships.
The main criticisms were that the actions were not specific enough, didn't go far enough to meet the objectives, or didn't link directly to tackling violence against women. It was suggested that a number of the actions would sit better within a "Gender Equality Strategy" rather than a "Violence Against Women Delivery Plan".
Suggestions for what was missing from Priority 2:
- Change work place culture, attitudes and challenge stereotypes - under-representation of either gender in work force, value traditionally female roles and encourage men into traditionally female roles
- Wider structural changes - Improve wages, promote living wage, improve terms and conditions job security, increase women's purchasing power
- The Gender Equality in Sport fund to address the barriers to women's participation should be extended to include culture, the arts, media and politics too, as well as suggestions that it should start earlier and focus on girls and young women
- Actions to keep women safe, including in public spaces
- Cultural shift in attitudes
Priority 3: Interventions are early and effective, preventing violence and maximising the safety and wellbeing of women, children and young people
Two-thirds (66%) of respondents agreed that the actions listed under priority three were the right ones, 10% disagreed and around a quarter (24%) neither agreed nor disagreed.
Respondents were particularly supportive of improving the experience of vulnerable witnesses, and of initiating an independent review of the commissioning of specialist services for women and children experiencing gender based violence. It was felt that high quality services are essential, as is consistency of service provision across Scotland. Respondents were also particularly supportive of the action around sharing lessons from the "safe and together" model of child protection, and some wanted this model rolled out more widely across Scotland.
In some cases, where respondents disagreed with an action, it was because they felt it did not go far enough rather than because they fundamentally disagreed with it. It was questioned why the "Medics Against Violence" programme was singled out.
Suggestions for what was missing from Priority 3:
- Training for professionals around violence against women
- Include all forms of VAW (including honour based violence, FGM, forced marriage, rape, child sexual abuse, human trafficking and CSE) - It was felt that too many actions specially referenced domestic abuse, rather than encompassing all forms of VAW.
- An action to fund and support Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences ( MARACs) consistently across Scotland.
Priority 4: Men desist from all forms of violence against women and girls and perpetrators of such violence receive a robust and effective response
Over half (59%) of respondents agreed that the actions listed under priority four were the right ones, 16% disagreed and a quarter (25%) neither agreed nor disagreed.
The action to look at perpetrator programmes was the most widely supported. However, a number felt this should be strengthened, that provision of such programmes was inconsistent, and that there was a need for earlier intervention through voluntary programmes.
There was support for the actions to "introduce a Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament which seeks to criminalise coercive control", and to provide training for justice professionals around this new Bill. The criminalisation of coercive control was seen as positive.
Disagreement was most commonly expressed as a feeling that actions needed to be more detailed or go further, rather than disagreeing with the intention of the action.
Suggestions for what was missing from Priority 4:
- Increase provision of and funding of perpetrator programmes and extend beyond those that are court mandated
- Training for professionals should be wider than the Domestic Abuse Bill
- Support for different types of perpetrators, including children, women and those with complex needs
Cross cutting actions
Around two thirds (67%) of respondents agreed that the cross-cutting actions were the right ones, 12% disagreed and a fifth (20%) neither agreed nor disagreed.
Respondents were generally supportive of taking a human rights based approach to all forms of violence against women and children. There was support for recognising that certain groups of women might be particularly vulnerable due to a range of other protected characteristics.
Respondents were unlikely to disagree with any of the specific cross cutting actions. The most common criticism was that it was unhelpful and disjointed to have cross cutting actions separate from the priority actions. In particular there was a strong feeling that "all forms" of violence needed to be better integrated into the priorities.
Suggestions for what was missing from the cross cutting actions:
- The need for stronger actions relating to tackling commercial sexual exploitation ( CSE)
- The need to align Equally Safe with other SG polices and relevant UN conventions
- Concern around the potential impact of Brexit on human rights and the need to mitigate against this
More than half (56%) of respondents agreed that the draft performance framework is right to help ensure that we understand the progress we are making, 16% disagreed, and 28% neither agreed nor disagreed.
There was general support for the performance framework and the logic modelling approach it took. Respondents highlighted the benefits of national level data than can be broken down to LA level, so LAs can see how they are doing compared to the national picture and other LAs.
Suggestions for what was missing from the performance framework:
- Additional indicators under "society", "perpetrators" and "women and children affected by violence"
- More detailed definitions of the indicators
- Detail about evidence sources, who will gather the data, where and when the data will be reported, and what the baseline will be
- A clearer link between the actions in the delivery plan and the outcomes/indicators in the performance framework – including what outcomes could reasonably be expected in the 5 year timeframe of the action plan.
How organisations can contribute
Respondents identified a number of ways in which they could contribute to Equally Safe. These ranged from the direct provision of services to those affected by VAW, to being willing to engage with the SG, to providing training, or contributing to the knowledge base around VAW, to raising awareness and promoting key messages from Equally Safe. For a number co-ordinating/ contributing to work on VAW at a local level is a key part of what they do .
How the experiences and views of the women, children and young people were included in organisations' consultation responses
Frequently organisation's responses were based on their expertise in the field and reflected the views of those they worked with, including service users, service providers, workers and partnership organisations. Others had used research, evaluation, case studies, information on evidence based practice, and professional learning to inform their answers. A small number mentioned that the work of their equalities committee had informed their response.
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