Rape Crisis Scotland
Sandy Brindley and her staff have been at the forefront of the organisation for many years and are to be commended for the work they do supporting victims of rape and abuse, very often in very difficult circumstances.
But the relentless increase in the incidence of rape, sexual assault and complexity of the work has stretched the organisation well beyond its capacity and this has resulted in a growing backlog of cases in which the aggrieved person has yet to be provided with aid or assistance.
According to a 2014 Fundamental Rights Agency survey, one in three women in the EU experienced physical and/or sexual violence from the age of 15. 55% of women have been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment (11% have been subjected to cyber harassment). One in twenty have been raped.
Violence against the person, of any nature is abhorrent and perpetrators should be subject to prosecution and penal incarceration, if found guilty by a jury. But the final decision whether to proceed to prosecution or some other remedy should remain with the complainant, (not the police).
Attention should be given to the adverse impact on the health and well being of someone who has suffered sexual and/or domestic abuse and systems should be in place providing emotional, social, spiritual, legal support, guidance and provision of legal aid allowing the complainant access to a barrister of choice.
The Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women and Girls, adopted by the Council of Europe in 2011 and ratified by the EU in June 2017 should be ratified and implemented by the Scottish Government without further delay.
Scottish Rape Crisis and similar support organisations should be merged and regrouped under one banner discontinuing the need for organisations to canvas Scots or plead for Lottery funding to finance the good works they do and to this end the Scottish Government should ensure that the Convention is properly implemented and enforced through the allocation of funding and human resources and the provision of appropriate training for case workers and other professions dealing with victims.