Why do you only campaign against men’s violence against women?

We focus on men’s violence against women because of its high prevalence and devastating impact. Men’s violence against women exists on a continuum from street harassment to femicide. It includes any form of violence or abuse where the majority of victims are women and the majority of people committing the abuse are men. See our page on violence against women stats.

While men experience significant and also unacceptable amounts of violence in Scottish society, the vast majority of perpetrators of violent crimes are also male (Source)

We do not seek to ignore that experience, however the root causes of men’s violence against women are very different to the causes of other types of violence. The causes of men’s violence against women are rooted in gender inequality which is why our work tackles the social attitudes that allow this inequality to continue.

Men’s violence against women is a choice, an abuse of male power and privilege and there is no excuse for it. It damages health and wellbeing, limits freedom and potential, and is a violation of our most fundamental human rights.

If you are seeking information or support due to domestic or sexual violence faced by men you can find it here.

Men’s violence against women impacts all women, regardless of their sexual orientation. If you are seeking specific information or support related to abuse within LGBT relationships (Source)

What is Primary Prevention?

Men’s violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. Gender inequality means that women have less economic, political and social power than men, making it possible for some men to abuse their power. Primary prevention aims to tackle the root cause of violence against women in order to eradicate it. We aim to prevent violence against women from ever happening by challenging the attitudes, values and structures that sustain, justify and promote inequality and violence.

What is a gender analysis?

A gender analysis is a way of looking at the world which takes account of the differences in men's and women's lives and how this affects them, for example health, employment, opportunities and so on. It recognises that taking a "gender neutral" approach, that is assuming the same for everyone, can cause disadvantage to both men and women. A good example is Sweden’s road clearing policy which you can watch here:

We already have equality in this country, why are you still fighting for it when it has been reached?

Unfortunately, while we have made great strides in gender equality, we are still not there yet. You can find out more here.

Gender inequality causes gender based violence. That is why we support challenging it in every sector.

Children and young people

Why do you work with early years providers and what does this have to do with violence against women?

It is never too early to question what is seen as ‘normal’ or what is traditionally expected of boys and girls in our society. In fact, doing so from a very young age helps to protect all children from the negative consequences of inequality and discrimination as they grow into adults. Certain gender stereotypes (like boys are only interested in play fighting and girls are only interested in dolls) can negatively impact the wellbeing, potential and safety of all children and we work to prevent this harm. Find out more about our early years work here.

Doesn’t this mean forcing children to be something they are not?

No. Biological differences aside, there is no scientific reason that girls and boys should prefer different things. The stereotypes we impose upon children stem from a patriarchal society – we should challenge these stereotypes.

Shouldn’t it be left to the parents to talk to their children about these issues?

Children spend a large portion of their lives at school and while we hope that parents will talk to their children about these issues, it is up to ALL adult role models in a child’s life to fully educate them about healthy relationships.

How does your work relate to Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful events occurring in childhood including:

  • domestic violence
  • parental abandonment through separation or divorce
  • a parent with a mental health condition
  • being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • a member of the household being in prison
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.

Research has found that as the number of ACEs increased in an individual’s childhood, so did their risk of experiencing a range of health conditions in adulthood. Zero Tolerance has taken a ACEs informed (or trauma-informed) approach for the last 25 years and remains committed to this approach.

Two of the commonly identified Adverse Childhood Experiences have a statistically gendered nature, namely sexual abuse and abuse of the mother. Childhood sexual abuse is substantially underreported however prevalence studies show that girls are more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse. (Source) Both of these examples of violence are more likely to be perpetrated by men. Zero Tolerance strongly advocates that all Adverse Childhood Experiences approaches in Scotland must take the gendered nature of some Adverse Childhood Experiences into account.

Commercial sexual exploitation

Why do you campaign against men buying sex?

We campaign against men buying sex because it is inextricably linked to gendered poverty, discrimination, and the multiple disadvantages women face in society. We also know that women who sell sex are at an increased risk of violence, and their human rights are likely to be compromised by the social, economic and political barriers which many of them face. We would never support measures that criminalise women selling sex; however we would ultimately like to see an end to men buying sex.

How does Zero Tolerance feel about women working in brothels and saunas?

We believe that since these places sell sex they still normalise the treatment of women as objects. We are pro harm reduction for those selling sex while still working to end demand for this – the two are not mutually exclusive.

Why do you feel stripping/lap dancing etc is harming to women?

We believe that all commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) is harmful to women. Again it is disproportionately women who work as strippers/lap dancers – it is a gendered issue and promotes the objectification of women’s bodies.

Violence against women

What about Bisexual Women?

Zero Tolerance acknowledges that bisexual women experience significantly higher rates of rape, domestic abuse and/or stalking compared to both lesbians and heterosexual women. (Source) We therefore work to reflect this reality throughout all of our primary prevention work through consistently acknowledging and tackling the causes of violence against bisexual women including sexualisation within the porn industry, bisexual erasure and discrimination.

What about Disabled Women?

Studies show that disabled women are twice as likely to experience gender based violence than non-disabled women, yet are less likely to seek help.(Source) Violence against disabled women is often the result of an abuse of power and coupled with discrimination.

Zero Tolerance subscribes to the social model of disability which acknowledges that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference. It looks at ways of removing barriers that restrict life choices for disabled people. When barriers are removed, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives, this in turn will contribute to the prevention of violence against disabled women. Find out more about the social model of disability here.

Are women responsible for the violence perpetrated against them?

No. There is no excuse for any form of violence against women (VAW). Men are responsible for their own actions. The root cause of all VAW is gender inequality and a small minority of men feeling entitled to perpetrate violence against women because they see them as less valuable and worthy than men.

What about false allegations of rape?

The rate of ‘false allegations’ made for rape stands at around 3% - this is no higher than for any other crime. The myth that women make false allegations of rape to get revenge or because they regret their decisions is unsubstantiated. Rape Crisis Scotland have a more comprehensive answer to this question.

What do you mean by consent?

By consent, we mean when someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with other persons. Consent should be freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point. Consent can also be withdrawn at any point and should never be assumed.

The law states that a person is not capable of giving consent if they are too drunk, too far under the influence of drugs or are unconscious.

Why doesn’t she just leave?

We should not be asking what the victim could have done differently; we should be asking why the perpetrator inflicted violence.

There are multiple factors that prevent women leaving abusive relationships, including:

  • The way the abuser has isolated them from family and friends
  • Financial dependence – controlling finances is one form of abuse
  • Lack of self-esteem and other mental and emotional health issues, often caused by the abuse.
  • Escalation of violence – around half of women killed by their partners are in the process of leaving. They may also fear retribution taken against children or pets.

Abuse often continues after women have left relationships. Ultimately we need to stop asking victims to prevent violence by leaving their homes; we need to examine the motivations of abusers and how their behaviour can be stopped.

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Related downloads

Primary Prevention BriefingPrimary Prevention Briefing Zero Tolerance briefing on Primary Prevention - challenging gender inequality to end Violence Against Women and Girls.