New term: time for MSPs to get to work

Picture of 5 sharpened yellow pencils with points touching
by Zero Tolerance Co-director, Jenny Kemp

It’s the first week of a new parliamentary term in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament reconvened on 1 September after the summer recess, and there is plenty to do. We hope that MSPs have sharpened their pencils and are ready for a busy session.

Because it is such a prevalent and pressing issue, violence against women is seldom far from the order of business in Scotland’s law-making chamber, and this session is no exception. MSPs will be busy with:
  • Stage 3 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill
  • Developing guidance on the licensing of Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs) following the passing of a new licensing law
  • Developing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) National Action Plan, Service Standards and National Guidance
  • Reconsidering the requirement for corroboration in Scots law
  • Debating and scrutinising the new Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill (announced as part of the Programme for Government 2015-16).
We also hope that MSPs will engage with a range of national events and activities led by VAW organisations, including:
The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. (That’s why its postcode is EH99 1SP). In 1999, it agreed the first domestic abuse strategy, and the Cross-Party Group on Men’s Violence against Women was established by then MSP Cathy Peattie. Crucially, the issue of tackling violence against women was identified then, and ever since, as too important to be subject to political argument and whipped votes. All parties agreed to work together to take this issue on and change Scottish society. There has been a great degree of consensus across the chamber.

16 years later, it’s as vital as ever, if not more so, that parties work collaboratively to end VAW. Women’s and children’s lives are too important to fall into the chasm between parties’ differing stances. Cooperative working to find solutions to the ‘wicked problem’ of violence and women’s inequality is urgently needed.

That’s why six of the key organisations working to end VAW have sent a joint briefing to MSPs urging them to work on these issue in the weeks to come; to work across parties; and to sign the Ending Men’s Violence Against Women Statement of Intent which is a public declaration of their commitment to end VAW using the principles of Equally Safe. Why not ask your MSP if they have signed it yet? And ask them what they will be doing to end VAW? You can find your MSP by using They Work For You

We look forward to a productive new term and to continued improvement of Scotland’s response to all forms of violence against women and girls.
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