Violence in Scotland

Sexual Violence

While figures for many crimes in Scotland are going down, sexual crimes have been on the rise 1974. (Source)

The number of sexual crimes recorded by the police in Scotland increased by 15% from 13,131 in 2020-21 to 15,049 in 2021-22. (Source)

It is estimated that the volume of sexual crimes that were cyber-crimes has increased from 1,100 in 2013-14 to 4,210 in 2021-22. (Source)

In 2021 - 2022 there were:

  • 2,498 crimes of rape and attempted rape recorded by Police Scotland.
  • 5,359 crimes of sexual assault recorded by Police Scotland.
  • 2,223 crimes of 'causing to view sexual activity or images' recorded by Police Scotland.
  • 1,608 crimes of 'communicating indecently' recorded by Police Scotland.
  • 912 crimes of 'threatening to or disclosing intimate images' recorded by Police Scotland.

(Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2021-22 Tables)


The actual figures are higher than these statistics suggest due to low reporting of these crimes. Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019 - 2020 showed that only 22% of victims/survivors of rape reported it to the police. (Source)


Domestic Abuse

In 2020-2021, there were 65,251 domestic abuse incidents recorded by Police Scotland. Around four out of every five of these incidents (80%) had a female victim and a male accused. (Source)

Of these incidents,1,760 were recorded as crimes under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) 2018 Act. In 1,625 of these cases, the victim-survivors were female. (Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2021-22 Tables)


However, we know most incidents of domestic abuse go unreported to the police.

The 2018/20 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey found that just under a sixth (16%) of those who experienced partner abuse in the 12 months prior to interview said that the police came to know about the most recent (or only) incident.(Source)


Sexual Harassment

  • A survey by Plan International UK has found that 35 per cent of girls wearing school uniform have been sexually harassed in public. (Source)


Sexual Harassment in Scottish Schools

A University of Glasgow study found, of 638 Scottish secondary school pupils surveyed:

  • 2/3 had been sexually harassed ‘visually or verbally’ in the past 3 months. (Source)
  • 1/3 had experienced personally-invasive behaviour, such as sexual touching, in the past 3 months. (Source)

Girlguiding found, of the 172 girls from Scotland aged between 7 and 21 surveyed:

  • 12% girls and young women aged 13 to 21 say fear of sexual harassment holds them back at school. (source)
  • Only 40% of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 learn about healthy relationships at school. (source)
  • 3/10 girls and young women can remember learning about sexual harassment at school. (source)

Girlguiding Scotland found of 540 girls and young women in Scotland aged 7 to 25:

  • 21% of girls and young women aged 13-25 said they experienced sexual harassment while at school, college or university. (Source)
  • 84% of girls aged 13-25 said they learnt little of nothing about sexual harassment or abuse in personal and social education. (Source)



Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014: Attitudes to violence against women in Scotland showed only 58% of people in Scotland believe that a woman who wears revealing clothing on a night out is ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped, with 60% saying the same of a woman who is very drunk. Around a quarter think that ‘women often lie about being raped’ and nearly 2 in 5 believe that ‘rape results from men being unable to control their need for sex’. (Source)


Exacerbated by other forms of inequality

  • Disabled women in the UK are twice as likely to experience men’s violence as non-disabled women. (Source)
  • Black and minority ethnic (BME) and migrant women face higher levels of domestic homicide and abuse driven suicide. (Source)

Low rates of conviction rates

2,298 rapes or attempted rapes were recorded by the Police in 2020 - 2021. (Source)

There were 152 proceedings for for rape and attempted rape and the conviction rate of cases that made it to court was 51% in 2020-21. (Source)

Number of convictions for rape and attempted rape decreased by 40% from 130 in 2019-20 to 78 in 2020-21. (Source)

Violence worldwide

Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner. (Source) A wide scale European study carried out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2014 found that an estimated 83 million to 102 million women (45 per cent to 55 per cent of women) in the EU-28 have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15. (Source)

Cost of VAWG

Violence against women and girls carries significant economic costs, with both households and national economies paying in terms of lost productivity and the financial burden on health and justice services.

VAWG costs England’s NHS an estimated £2.9 billion every year. (Source)

Mental health VAWG, including emotional abuse and coercive control, has been linked to a greater risk of adverse mental health outcomes among women. The most prevalent include depression, suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress, other stress and anxiety conditions, sleeping or eating disorders and psychosomatic conditions. Many of the physical health impacts of VAWG will also have direct implications for women’s mental health.

Gender inequality

Violence against women is caused by gender inequality, and it allows this inequality to continue.

52% of Scotland's population are women.

Yet in 2020 women made up only:

  • 36% of MSPs (increase to 45% after 2021 elections)
  • 29% of local councillors,
  • 23% of council leaders,
  • 36% of public body chief executives,
  • 32% of university principals,
  • 22% of sheriffs,
  • 13% of senior police officers.
  • 6% of major newspaper editors,
  • 20% of major museums and art galleries directors,
  • 19% of national sports bodies chief executives,
  • 4% of CEOs of Scotland's ‘top’ businesses
  • 0% FTSE 100 CEOs in Scotland. (Source)

In 2020 provisional results indicate that the mean gender pay gap in Scotland is:

  • 10% when comparing of men's and women's overall average hourly earnings;
  • 8% when comparing men's and women's full-time average hourly earnings; and
  • 30% when comparing men's full-time average hourly earnings with women's part-time average hourly earnings.

In addition women working full-time earn 7.5 per cent less than their male counterparts, while part-time women earn on average 29.7 per cent less than men working full-time illustrating the systemic undervaluation of “women’s work” which continues to be concentrated in part-time, low-paid jobs. (Source)

Women are four times more likely than men to give up paid work to do unpaid care work. (Source)

The economic value of the unpaid care provided by women in the UK is estimated to be £77bn per year. (Source)


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