Mar 022017

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against. With thanks to Banff & Buchan SNP.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect
women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon, End Violence Against Women, Scottish Women’s convention, NUS, Girlguiding, and the Fawcett Society.

The Bill also received strong support from the actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who this week wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Commenting after the Bill passed its Third Reading, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.

“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.

“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.

“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse are neither natural nor inevitable. We can prevent it, we can challenge it and we can hold perpetrators to account. We need to do all these things if we are to end this systematic abuse of women’s basic human rights, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a big step in the right direction.

“We have travelled some distance in this struggle but we still have such long way still to go and we need to recognise that Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a milestone on the journey to equality and justice for women, not an end point.”

Further reading:

 Emma Watson backs SNP MP’s bid to combat domestic abuse.
 Theresa May urges MPs to back Whiteford bill and stamp out violence against women.

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Dec 312015

howwesupportWith thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR

A new project to support childhood rape and abuse survivors has got off the ground in Aberdeen – with a helping hand from Aberdeen Asset Management.
The firm’s Charitable Foundation has given a donation that has enabled the city’s Rape and Abuse Support (RAS) to set up a new programme providing assistance and relief to young people and adults who have suffered abuse.

Trained volunteers offer direct and tailored support through a 12-step programme, providing a listening ear in a safe and comfortable environment where issues and coping mechanisms can be discussed.

RAS offers support and information to anyone over 13 years old who has been raped or sexually abused at any time in their life. It works in the main with the survivors of rape and abuse who may have issues around self harm, alcoholism, self esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also provides information and support to families, friends and partners to enable them to support the survivor in the long term.

The charity works with partners in the community to address rape and sexual violence, has a prevention programme and receives referrals from a wide range of organisations. In January 2014, RAS expanded its service to support men and boys.

Lorraine Dobson, the charity’s support services co-ordinator said:

“We are very grateful for this donation from Aberdeen Asset Management that has allowed us to roll out this new support project for young girls and women in the North East. This project enables survivors to discuss issues relating to abuse, and the impact it has had on their lives and to explore issues including developing coping mechanises to address this in everyday life.

“Childhood survivors can share their stories with trained volunteers who can offer direct and unique support to them. This will be an ongoing project as we aim to help as many people as we can.”

Dominic Kite of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation said:

“Rape and Abuse Support Aberdeen carries out vital work in the city and surrounding area and this new support group will build and develop the service it is able to offer.”

The Aberdeen Asset Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects. The donation to RAS which has enabled the setting up of the new support project totals £4,000.

For more information visit

Nov 302012

With thanks to Kathryn Russell.

To mark the United Nations’ International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day, Aberdeen Women’s Alliance (AWA) took to the streets to collect donations for Rape and Abuse Support (RAS).
They also took the opportunity to discuss with city shoppers the recent funding issues experienced by the charity and the importance of the service it provides.

RAS provides support and advocacy to female survivors of sexual violence, whether recent or historical, as well as challenging public attitudes towards rape through outreach work.

AWA chose to fundraise for RAS following news earlier this year that the charity’s Scottish Government funding had been cut by 50%.

Director for the charity and member of AWA, Kathryn Russell stated:

“Despite the weather, we had a great turn out from members of the AWA and were delighted by the generosity of Aberdeen’s Christmas shoppers.

“Sexual violence is a crime which can have a devastating impact, and it is crucial survivors have access to appropriate support and help following a rape or sexual assault. That’s why it’s essential that we retain the important service provided by RAS in the North-east.”

Following fears that the rape crisis centre would have to close after Christmas, RAS successfully raised enough funds to ensure its immediate future. Donations are still required, however, and those wishing to donate can do so at:

Nov 092012

With thanks to Gordon Maloney.

Students from the University of Aberdeen have organised a night-time march through the city for this weekend to tackle what they say is a “victim-blaming” culture around sexual violence.

The march follows the vicious sexual assault of a young woman near the main campus of the University.

The students say that the advice being given to young women, to stay safe by not walking alone, shifts the blame away from the perpetrators of sexual violence onto the victims, blaming women for walking alone rather than men for attacking them.

Lisa Frach, the Women’s Officer at Aberdeen University Students’ Association, issued the following statement:

“Many of you will have heard about the sexual assault that took place in Bedford Avenue last Saturday morning. The Grampian Police department, which is investigating in the Bedford Avenue case, has advised women not to walk alone, even in the daytime. This and similar advice have been given to women basically forever.

“However, this way of arguing forces not only the focus on the victim, but also the blame. Feminists and student groups in the 70’s started opposing this way of thinking and organised very successful “Reclaim the Night” marches throughout the world to shift the focus on the perpetrator.

“A facebook page called Aberdeen University Confessions, that was recently shut down due to questionable content, brought to light that the view women would bring sexual assault upon themselves, is still held among some students of our university. Your Students’ Association would like to remind everyone that while incidents such as the one in Bedford Avenue are rare, we would like to reaffirm that sex without consent is rape. This is equally true in the pub with your friends as it is late at night when you’re walking home.

“As reaction to the sexual assault, the advice given by the police and the persistent way of victim blaming we are organising a “Reclaim the Night” – march on November 10th. Starting at 6pm in Hillhead, we are heading to Bedford Avenue following the route the young woman took on Saturday morning.

“For women to liberate themselves from victim blaming and to emphasize the fact that women don’t need to be protected by men the march is going to be for self-defining women (including trans*-women and genderqueer persons) only.

“While we support the general safety advice we would like to encourage that if you wish to talk to someone about suspicious behaviour, harassment or violence, contact the police about criminal offences. If you don’t feel comfortable with the police you can consult the Student Advice Centre (SAC) in Butchart or RAS (Rape and Abuse Support) on 01224 620 772.

“The SAC service and RAS are both confidential services that are here to listen and offer advice if you need it, as well as give support in reporting incidents formally through the police service. Even if you have no plans to formally report an incident, it can help to discuss it with someone who is sympathetic and trained to give you non-judgemental support.

“Please, look out for each other and support one another.”