UPDATE: The Conservative MSP Bill Aitken resigned as convener of the justice committee at Holyrood after comments he made on prostitution in an area where a woman was allegedly raped led to a public outcry calling for his resignation.
Zero Tolerance have responded to the recent comments by Bill Aiken MSP, Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee by writing to the Comittee members, as well as leader of the Scottish Conservatives Annabel Goldie, demanding his immediate resignation. We would urge all those who believe that rapists, not their victims, are always responsible for rape to write to them and to attend the protest tomorrow. Contact details and our response below.
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Dear Justice Committee member,
I am writing on behalf of Zero Tolerance to express my deep concern at the remarks made by the Conservative Party MSP Bill Aitken about the brutal rape of a woman in Glasgow city centre last week, and to ask you to use any means available to you to end his tenure as convenor of the Justice Committee.
Mr Aitken’s remarks show that he has little understanding of rape and little concern for placing responsibility for this dreadful and life-altering crime with the perpetrators. His questioning of the victim’s reasons for being in a particular area of town and of whether she might have been involved in prostitution betray that he thinks women can sometimes hold responsibility for being raped, and that the crime is somehow lessened or mitigated if the victim is involved in prostitution.
Rape is always a crime, always vicious, and never invited. The blame always lies with the rapist.
It is also a crime which is not taken seriously enough by the Scottish criminal justice system, which has the lowest rape conviction rate in Western Europe. There are also appallingly high attrition rates at different stages of the criminal justice process meaning the actual number of prosecutions is far too low, which is a factor in the low conviction rate. This is shameful and makes it all the more important for public dialogue on rape to be measured, helpful and supportive of those who experience this crime.
Bill Aitken’s position as Convenor of the Justice Committee is now untenable. Women in Scotland need to know their parliamentarians take men’s violence against women seriously and especially those who are charged with developing justice responses to crimes of violence. We have no confidence in Mr Aitken’s ability or intent to do so. I am asking you to seek Mr Aitken’s resignation as Justice Convenor; to publicly state your full support for all victims of rape; and to affirm that the Justice Committee will always place responsibility with the men who commit this crime.
I look forward to your response.