Zero Tolerance has submitted a consultation response to the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, which was introduced into the Scottish Parliament on 8 October. The Bill aims to prevent abuse, harassment or sexual harm in a number of ways via both the criminal and the civil law, including: the creation of a new domestic abuse aggravator, closing a loophole around the making of non-harassment orders in criminal cases, and directions being given to juries in sexual offences cases.
The Bill also sets out plans to create a new offense of non-consensual sharing of intimate images (so-called 'revenge porn'), about which we share Scottish Women's Aid's concern that the offense needs to go further than images and include other forms of media.
Zero Tolerance is broadly supportive of the Bill. We know that reforms to criminal law can have a beneficial effect on women’s equality and are greatly needed.
We also know, however, that it is vitally important to change social attitudes and values which permit violence to occur in the first place. And, while this legislation is very welcome, we also believe there needs to be much more focus on prevention of domestic abuse and sexual harm.
In addition to welcoming these important reforms, we are urging an increased focus on primary prevention –that is, building prevention into everyday work to promote equal and respectful relationships between men and women and raising awareness of the harmful effects of victim blaming culture, which allows these kinds of behaviours to go unchecked.
To read our full consultation response, please click here.