Ruth Maguire MSP has praised the decision made by the Scottish Government to provide funding for key organisations dedicated to supporting the safety of women and children at risk of violence during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Grants from the Scottish Government’s £350 million Communities Fund have been made to Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland to ensure that access to these key support services is maintained and victims still have access to methods of reporting crimes during the crisis, including using online video platforms, text messaging and phone calls.
Ruth Maguire MSP said: “Women and girls at risk of experiencing domestic violence face the prospect of being trapped with their abusers as a result of social distancing measures put in place to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
“As of 31 March, it had been reported that seven women across the UK had been murdered in their homes. The essential social distancing measures put in place have placed vulnerable women and girls in a position of increased risk of violence.
“The announcement of additional funding to Scottish Women’s Aid as well as Rape Crisis Scotland over the next six months will be a lifeline to those at risk as we wish to ensure that victims of gender based violence during this particularly difficult time will still have access to services.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We want women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the home to know that although they may feel isolated and vulnerable during these unprecedented times, they are not alone.
“Anyone experiencing violence, including coercive and controlling behaviours, should not feel in any way inhibited by the current coronavirus outbreak to report a crime against them.
“These are enormously difficult times, but the safety of women and child victims who experience abuse in the home is paramount – the message to stay at home does not mean that they should not seek urgent help, advice or support.
“As the anniversary of the Domestic Abuse Scotland Act 2018 approaches, it is a priority now as ever that victims of domestic abuse and gender based violence have access to support services, and that support organisations and frontline staff, who work tirelessly to provide these vital services, are supported to deliver new ways of working in these unprecedented times.
“The Scottish Government will continue to prioritise ensuring that the health, safety and wellbeing needs of women and children experiencing domestic abuse and gender based violence are met. If you are experiencing abuse – please do not feel you have wait to receive vital support. This is available now.”
Scottish Women’s Aid will receive £1.35 million over six months.
Rape Crisis Scotland will receive £226,309 over six months.
Scotland’s 24hr Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline is available on 0800 027 1234.
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline is available on 08088 01 03 02. Calls to this number are free. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07537 410027.
The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, which came into force on 1 April 2019, reflects the full spectrum of abuse that victims may suffer, providing police and prosecutors with greater powers to target those who engage in coercive or controlling behaviour towards their partners or ex-partners. Further information on the law can be found at https://safer.scot/
The Scottish Government has provided an additional £825,000 to Police Scotland to support the training of officers and frontline staff to respond to and investigate the new domestic abuse offence.