Tag Archives: Domestic Abuse

UK charity Refuge opposes launch of Clare’s Law pilot scheme

By Charlotte Barbour

Domestic abuse campaigners yesterday called into question the effectiveness of Clare’s Law, a scheme which will be piloted across areas of Scotland today.

Domestic abuse charity Refuge expressed concerns that the Law is not enough to help protect women from violence.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, a 36-year old woman who was murdered by her abusive boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009. She was not aware of his history of violence against women.

“Clare’s Law” will be piloted in Ayrshire and Aberdeen today and will last for six months. It will allow people suffering from domestic abuse access to information on a partner’s potential violent history. If successful the scheme will then be rolled out across Scotland.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said:

“Clare’s Law sounds good on paper, but in reality it will do very little to help the hundreds of thousands of women and children who experience domestic violence in this country.

“Some people will say that if Clare’s Law saves just one life, it is worth it. But let’s be clear – two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence in England and Wales. Saving just one life is not enough.

“What will happen if a woman is told that her partner does have a history of violence? Will she be expected to pack her bags and leave straight away? At Refuge, we know that it isn’t that simple.

“Leaving a violent partner is an incredibly difficult step to take. It is also extremely dangerous – women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner. And if women do leave, where are they supposed to go? Refuges are closing up and down the country because of huge funding cuts.

“Clare’s Law may help a few individuals but we need to help the majority of victims – not the few. The most effective way to save lives on a large scale is to improve police practice and protect the vital services run by specialist organisations like Refuge. Let’s get our priorities right.”

Lily Greenan, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, fully supports the scheme. She said:

“Clare’s Law allows people who are concerned about the behaviour of their partner now have the right to ask if they have a history of abuse.

“We are supporting it because anything that potentially helps to prevent domestic abuse against a person is worth having a go at. The levels of domestic abuse in Scotland are very high, and these can become quite extreme before people feel that they can contact the police about it.

“We see the law as a pro-active approach to try and encourage people who feel uncomfortable about what their partner is doing to quietly enquire about whether or not there is a history of domestic abuse.

“Obviously it is not a replacement for a criminal investigation if what is happening to them is already definable as abuse but it may be helpful to some people to have that information in advance.”

According to the Scottish government website, the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse last year reached 60,080, a rise of almost a third in a decade.

Half of all incidents recorded in 2012-13 led to the recording of a crime or an offence, and of these, 78 per cent were reported to the procurator fiscal.

Factors which may increase women’s vulnerability to some types of violence include age, disability and poverty.

Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, believes that had his daughter been able to access information on Appleton’s criminal history it may have saved her life.

Dance against domestic abuse

Scottish Women’s Aid encourages you to put on your dancing shoes
for a good cause this Friday.

The organisation will hold a special charity ceilidh on November 25, in Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Scottish Women’s Aid celebrates its 35th anniversary with The Belle Star Ceilidh Band providing live entertainment.

This event coincides with the beginning of the 16 Days of Action campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

The fundraiser is just one of several events to be held throughout the coming months.  Other milestones in the anniversary calendar include seminars with influential researchers and activists addressing major developments in the understanding of the issue of gender based violence over the past 35 years.

As part of their anniversary the organisation will also hold an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia at Glasgow Women’s Library from November 26 – December 10.

A spokeswoman for the charity said, “The anniversary events will place the work of Scottish Women’s Aid in its historic, social and cultural context, highlighting connections with other campaigns and other struggles for social justice. The events will look back over the history of Scottish Women’s Aid, celebrating its achievements as well as looking to the challenges that lie ahead.”

For over three decades now the organisation is battling domestic abuse and offers help to them who suffer from it. The services they provide include safe refuge accommodation as well as information and support. Their mission statement is to end violence against women by fighting gender inequality, one of the main causes resulting in abuse. In times where domestic abuse is still a taboo, Scottish Women’s Aid has been ambitiously campaigning for real change throughout the years and has established itself as an important charity organisation.

The ceilidh starts Friday, November 25 at 7.30pm in the Edinburgh City Chambers.

Prices range from £16-£20 for adults and £10 concessions for students and under 16s. All the money goes to Scottish Women’s Aid. Food and a welcome drink are also included in the ticket price.

Domestic Abuse: Charity’s Funding at Risk?

Charity's funding at risk as part of impending spending cuts?

By Anne Mackie

In a recent survey by Scottish Women’s Aid, it was recognised that 120 women seek help for domestic abuse on a day to day basis.

Last month, the campaign drew a 24 hour poll where it was noted that 123 women got in contact for the first time. Statistics proved a total of 1,188 women; children and young people were given some form of help that day.

Although the charity supported a number of women and young people in refuge, a total of 24 women and 26 children were not provided for on the day of the poll. It is thought this was due to lack of sheltered space. The charity claim the principal reason these individuals were left unaccommodated was because they refused to stay in the vicinity. This left 9 women and 11 young people where they were.

There are concerns that some of the charity’s funding could be at risk as part of impending spending cuts. A potential 40 per cent reduction in women’s support funding across Scotland is expected to have a disturbing effect on the quality of support available to victims of domestic abuse.

Scottish Women’s Aid manager Lily Greenan voiced her appeal to the Scottish Government to guarantee dedicated funding streams including the Violence Against Women’s Fund and the Children’s Services Fund continue to provide assistance to the victims of abuse. Greenan said:

“These funds provide an average of 40% of women’s aid groups funding, which will come to an end in March 2011 with no decisions being made about their future.”

Scottish Women’s Aid are still supporting 63 per cent of the women and young people from the poll through Women’s Aid outreach, drop-in and follow-on services.

Domestic Abuse in Men on the Increase in Scotland.

Recent reports show a 10% rise in male domestic abuse victims in Scotland over the last year.

Edinburgh based organisation Goodmoves aim to create volunteer run charities in many areas of Scotland. Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) have launched a campaign to get government support on the ongoing issue of domestic violence, and help find a voice for the men who suffer it.

 “Jenn”, just one of Goodmove’s volunteers thinks that cases are not on the increase, but awareness most definitely is:

“I don’t believe that there has been a significant rise in cases of male domestic abuse victims, but thanks belong to all the organisations working together to ensure people understand this is a serious and common problem. More men have come forward, instead of shying away for lack of strength or courage”.

Home office statistics (2010) show that 30 men each year are killed in instances of domestic violence. With 4 new cases arising in Scotland every day.

AMIS offer confidential services to men of all ages; regardless of background and do so on a daily basis:

“We offer a private service, no call logs or access to the web page can be traced by anyone else, and simply give victims the means to speak out confidently, report violence, or just lend an ear to those in need”.  said Alison Waugh, co founder of AMIS.

On a larger scale, British organisations like ManKind suggest that the reason for this is a change in attitudes and a greater acceptance of this issue as a real problem:

“There is a major problem, in that acknowledgement of the issue is ignored and this ignorance is only sustained by ‘macho’ attitudes and an opinion that men are always the more dominating sex, and therefore are not at the forefront of concern. Men are seen as perpetrators of violence, not victims, but recent press is a great start to a means of ending this problem. What this means for us, is that government ministers will look up, instead of turning a blind eye. The services and facilities needed to cope with this growing problem will continue to develop, and the ignorance will stop”.

Government plans to reduce domestic abuse

By Sally Edgar.

Police may be given the power to warn women against potentially violent partners as the Government reveals a plan to tackle domestic abuse.

Men that have had previous offenses could be placed on a register, identifying them as a potential risk to women. This would be monitored by police who could have the authority to warn these offender’s girlfriend’s of their history. If neccessary, police could also be given powers to ban offenders from the family home for a fortnight.

These plans have been listed in a consultation document due to published by the Home Office. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith hopes that if the ideas are passed they could help to protect women and reduce their exposure to domestic violence.

“At the moment we have orders that quite often individual women take out on their partners, or ex-partners, if they have been abusive to them.
“Perhaps we ought to turn that round and say that the order ought to attach to the perpetrator, to the usually man, who has actually had a series of offences; that might be one way of doing it.

“Or perhaps there may be times when it is appropriate for people to actually be given information by the police that somebody that they have started a relationship with is somebody who has a history of violence.

“We’ve already made real progress with domestic violence incidents more than halving in the past 12 years. But I want to start a national debate on what more we can do to prevent it and challenging attitudes which condone it.”


Even with recent progress there are still a high number of cases of physical or emotional abuse in the home.
And it’s not just women that are suffering from this form of abuse. Jacqui Smith has announced that “Violence against women and girls is unacceptable in any form.” The fact that the report focuses on women victims may leave abused men feeling somewhat unsupported and discriminated against sexually.

In 2007, 142 people died in domestic attacks, including 38 men. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are thought to suffer some kind of abuse behind closed doors every year. Many of these people are too afraid to confront their partners and continue their lives in silence.

Scotland is also hoping to make this issue a high priority. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has reinforced the importance of fighting for this cause.
“Sadly, violence is part of too many women’s lives across the world. I want today to call on my fellow political leaders in Scotland – let’s put family back at the top of the agenda, let’s have the debate about how we put family back at the heart of society and how we support the family,” she said.