This new strategy, developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA and a range of partners sets out plans to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, aiming to create a society where all can feel equally safe and respected.
Equally Safe is the first strategy of its kind in Scotland, encompassing the full spectrum of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, rape, commercial sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation. It identifies the need to eliminate the systemic gender inequality that lies at the root of violence against women and girls, as well as seeking to ensure that when violence and abuse does occur we intervene as early and effectively as possible, holding the perpetrators of violence to account and helping to keep women and girls safe.
It highlights the need for every area of Government and wider society to play a role in tackling this issue. It calls on the engagement of the police, the NHS, community planning partnerships as well as the civil and criminal justice systems, social work, housing, media, businesses, employers, trade unions and third sector organisations to play their part in creating a society where all women and girls can feel safe, respected and equal in our communities.
The strategy is designed to help organisations and partners align their work with one shared, clear goal to help create a strong, flourishing Scotland where women and girls live free from violence and the attitudes that help perpetuate it.
In recognition of the key role that the justice system has in responding to violence against women and girls, Equally Safe signals a comprehensive review of the justice system in Scotland. This review will include consideration of the law relating to sexual offences and domestic abuse and whether the current law reflects the true experience of victims of long-term abuse and whether additional criminal offences are required.
Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC said:
"The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is delighted to support this national strategy.
"It emphasises the ongoing commitment that Scotland has to tackling violence against women and girls. The strategy highlights the need for all partners to continue the modernisation drive in the way we tackle domestic abuse cases. We particularly welcome the commitment to a root and branch review of how the criminal justice system deals with domestic abuse, including plans to monitor our effectiveness and the level of reoffending.
"Prosecutors already work closely with the police and other agencies which offer support to victims to ensure that our approach to these appalling crimes is the right one.
"The COPFS had made tackling domestic abuse a priority and last year I appointed a specialist prosecutor in this area to ensure that we have the expertise in bringing perpetrators to justice and offer the necessary support to victims."