Make your voice heard on VAW and the law

by Zero Tolerance Co-director, Jenny Kemp

**UPDATE: 16 June 2015 Zero Tolerance ‘Equally Safe’ consultation submission now available here **

The Scottish Government is consulting on whether or not it should make changes to the criminal law in Scotland, as it relates to violence against women (VAW).

The ‘Equally Safe’ consultation has three main strands:
  1. Creating a new specific offence of ‘domestic abuse’, which would make the law more reflective of survivors’ experiences; and would mean perpetrators could be prosecuted for using controlling, coercive and abusive behaviours as well as physical violence; and creating an aggravator so that crimes such as common assault could be considered as having been aggravated by being committed in a context of Domestic Abuse.
  2. Making the non-consensual sharing of private, intimate images a crime. This would tackle so-called ‘revenge porn’, where partners or ex-partners seek to humiliate women by sharing private images; the threat of this can be used a controlling tactic.
  3. Bringing in jury directions in sexual offence cases, to help juries to understand issues around delayed reporting and women’s reactions to rape (e.g. not resisting with physical force), to overcome their preconceptions about ‘the right way’ to respond to a sexual assault.
The consultation also covers the use of non-harassment orders in cases where the perpetrator is too unwell to stand trial; and proposes new provisions to allow Scottish courts to prosecute sexual offences committed outside of Scotland but within the UK.

Zero Tolerance will submit a full response to this consultation and will share our response soon. The consultation closes on 19 June 2015.

Anyone with a view on these issues can make a response; it doesn’t have to be very formal or full of lengthy evidence citations and academic information. It can simply be a statement that you think the law needs to do more to protect women from domestic abuse; or from traumatic experiences when seeking justice for rape; or from the humiliation of revenge porn. You can send in a single paragraph or a longer document – it is up to you.

What matters is that you make your voice heard.

Do you think that reforms to the criminal law are enough? What about civil law – what is your experience in the family courts? What else needs to happen for VAW to be successfully prosecuted? What needs to happen for it to be prevented in the first place?

If you have views on any of these issues, take part, by Friday 19 June. You can email your comments to:
or send them to:

Patrick Down
Criminal Law & Sentencing Team
GWR St Andrew’s House

Let the Scottish Government know what you want them to do to make sure we are all Equally Safe.
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