Tag Archives: Legislation

Scotland Lead the Way to a Brighter Future

New legislation will ensure forced marriage is a thing for the history books.

Scottish government ministers today revealed proposals to pass a bill of rights making forced marriages a thing of the past.

The legislation enables courts to pass prison sentences of up to two years and issue annulments on any marriage found to cause emotional distress. Friends and family of victims also have the right to voice any concern to the police.

This comes as a direct response to current campaigning by the Scottish Women’s Association (SWA) who last week held their annual conference in Edinburgh where discussions were drawn to a close and action taken.

Lily Greenan, Managing Director of Scottish Women’s Aid was present at the conference.

“It was suggested by senior police and court officials that the issue is now a big enough problem in Edinburgh to require legislation,” she said.

Home office statistics show that 4000 women in the UK are forced into marriage every year, and 17, 000 women are victims of honour related violence.

Women’s protection charity Shakti, based in Edinburgh, say the move is long overdue.

“This act is particularly important as it sends a strong message to communities throughout Scotland, that forced marriage is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The latest measure will stop cases such as Puja’s from occurring. After her marriage turned from bad to worse, her husband started beating her, and forbid her from seeing her only son. She had nowhere to turn for fear that her situation would deteriorate. This law will give men and women such as Puja legal protection as it will provide them with a safe environment and an escape.

Lothian and Borders police say this is a very positive step, which has been needed for a long time, but that public prejudice remains.

A police statement said: “Education also needs to be addressed with regards to the situation. An arranged marriage is a cultural and consensual practice but a forced marriage is an entirely different thing. It is an enforced situation whereby men and women feel trapped within their circumstances.”

Women’s charities hope the bill will raise awareness between the difference as the two are very different, and that difference is not well known. SWA  expressed relief and that this positive step was taken, saying: “The fact that there is now a protection order shows valuable steps have been taken to ensure that anyone in breach of this will be identified as committing a criminal offense”.

Fireworks terror for Scotland’s animals

by Emma Cameron

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As the firework season gets underway and the showery weather continues across the country, the Scottish SPCA is urging worried pet owners to contact their local MSP and back the Society’s proposals for a change to the laws on the sale of fireworks and their unlicensed use in public.

At present, fireworks can be used in public on any day of the year between the hours of 07.00 and 23.00 GMT, with the laws further relaxed around major occasions such as 5 November and New Year’s Eve.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn explained that it’s not a total ban on fireworks that the charity wants to see, but a restriction on the days it’s legal to use fireworks and they are calling out for tighter laws on the sale of rockets and catherine wheels.

He said to Edinburgh Napier that: “Because the current legislation is so relaxed, fireworks can and are being set off on any given day and for weeks and months on end rather than being limited to the major festival periods. This leaves pet owners unable to make adequate safety provisions for their animals.”

Scotland’s animal welfare charity is being inundated with reports of animals being seriously injured as a result of the terrifying sounds of fireworks. This week, a cat in Ayrshire had to be put down after a group of youths strapped a firework to its back and set it alight.

In addition to changing the law on when fireworks can be used, which is devolved to the Scottish Government, the SSPCA is pushing for changes on when they can be sold, legislation which is reserved to Westminster. At present, fireworks can be sold from 15 October to 10 November, from 26 to 31 December and on the days of Chinese New Year and Diwali and the three preceding days.

Chief Superintendant Flynn added: “Clearly our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of domestic and wild animals, but we believe these proposals, if successful, would also have a real human benefit and assist the emergency services, particularly around the ever challenging month of November.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is also reminding people to take care with bonfires and fireworks. Nicola Butters, RoSPA’s home safety development officer in Scotland, said: “Whether you’ll be setting off fireworks in the run up to November 5, on Thursday itself or at the weekend, it’s important that you think in advance about how you’re going to keep everyone safe.”

The SSPCA is encouraging MSPs to take action on the responsibility of the use of fireworks, to safeguard both animals and people. An SNP spokesperson said to Edinburgh Napier News that: “We will continue to act on irresponsible use of fireworks, which is a misery and a blight on the lives of the vast majority of the population and also of course particularly affects pet owners. It is simply Anti-Social behaviour and although I think the situation has improved we must be vigilant on this issue.”

The SSPCA recommends that during the firework season:

  • All pets should be kept indoors after dark, including animals in outdoor hutches.
  • Curtains should be closed and televisions and radios left on to mask the sounds of fireworks.
  • Anyone planning a display, particularly in rural areas, should warn their neighbours in advance.
  • Bonfires should be checked for signs of hibernating hedgehogs.
  • Telephone our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999 if you know of animals suffering due to fireworks.

And for humans, remember to:

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

See www.saferfireworks.com for more tips on planning a safe party.

Bid for assisted suicide in Scotland by Lothians MSP

by Margaret Kearns

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald has launched a bid to introduce a change of law legalising assisted suicide in Scotland. MacDonald, herself a sufferer of Parkinson’s Disease, will announce on Monday her plans for consultation, with a view to bringing the legislation before Parliament next year. The consultation paper will require the backing of at least 18 MSP’s and will attempt to include a patients right to end their life under the terms of palliative care.

Mrs MacDonald is a staunch supporter of assisted suicide for terminally ill patients and said “I’m doing this, not has an individual who suffers from a degenerative condition but as a legislator, a law maker, who has the privilege of being able to represent people and make things the way people would like things to be.” Her proposal will include plans to provide “physician-assisted suicide” within the structure of the NHS.

Protest at the proposed change will be expected from many representational bodies for religious groups and medical staff. Head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien has spoken out against euthanasia and any proposal to alter it’s illegality “If God gives us that gift, (of life) He can take that from us but we’re not taking it from Him and as it were saying, ‘well God, I’m finished with life because I can’t cope with cancer or Parkinson’s or whatever it has to be’. We just wait on God calling us to himself.”

Members of the legal profession are also damning the plan as they feel it is in direct violation of the Hippocratic oath and the motivation of the medical profession as a whole. A spokesman for the British Medical Association in Scotland, Dr. George Fernie has also said “We are a caring profession, we don’t want people not to be reassured that the profession are there doing their best for them, not to worry about the motives of that doctor”

Assisted suicide hit the headlines this weekend when it was revealed that a 90 tear old Londoner, only known as ‘Chris’ died on Friday at euthanasia clinic “Ex-International” in Switzerland. The man, who was not terminally ill, decided to end his life after deteriorating health had reduced it’s quality. 

It is not yet known whether the Mrs MacDonald’s plan will go into consultation, needing the approved support of fellow MSP’s, nor has it been clarified whether the legislation will provide for ‘passive’ or ‘active’ euthanasia. Active euthanasia would place responsibility on the physician to administer a lethal drug, passive defines the act as the deprivation of those things necessary to sustain the life of a patient.