Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

Following feedback from users we set up the blog womensgrid to focus on information by and about women from around the UK and Ireland (and any European items that seem relevant).

So to see the latest UK and Ireland posting go to http://womensgrid.freecharity.org.uk

(see original annoucement at https://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/womensgrid-blog-for-local-womens-news-and-information/)

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Posting moved to womesngrid:

Women are dying to look perfect.

Literally. Last year’s toll included a music promoter who expired on the operating table while undergoing cosmetic surgery, and a couple of fashion models who starved themselves to death. High profile enough to have made headlines, these women may represent just a fast glimpse of the beauty industry’s dark lining.

But they have no one but themselves to blame for the risky lifestyle choices they made in pursuit of looking good. Or do they?

The U.K. Periodical Publishers Association has launched an inquiry into the pervasive practice of digitally enhancing photographs. The initiative was inspired by a report commissioned by the British Fashion Council into the industry’s regrettable influence on women’s body image. And the council’s report? It was prompted by public outrage over the death of the models and the destructive definition of ideal femininity perpetuated by fashion media.

It should be an old story. Women’s groups have been protesting unattainable beauty standards for decades. Here in Canada, Media Watch spent more than 25 years conducting research, delivering educational seminars, meeting with regulators and mobilizing consumers around the need for more responsible media portrayals.

Despite such activism, and greater public awareness, some aspects of the situation have gotten worse, not better. Magazine cover stories sensationalize celebrity crimes against body image every week; reality TV shows regularly invent new ways to exploit women’s insecurities; and the digital distortion of Photo-shopped images fuels exponential growth in cosmetic surgery procedures, despite the health risks attached to many.

So the move by British magazine publishers to explore the development of an ethics code on retouching is long overdue. Why shouldn’t magazines be held to the same ethical standards that newspapers follow? Consumers have a right to expect authenticity from the photos they disseminate. If we can’t trust that the images we’re looking at reflect reality, why should we credit the words that appear alongside them with any greater truth?

An even more compelling case can be made for the images that appear in ads. When cosmetic companies claim that their lotions and creams will reduce the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite, it’s reasonable to expect that the photographs purporting to illustrate such results have not been altered. How is “truth in advertising” served when models promoting dietary aides and foundation makeup have achieved their slim silhouettes and flawless complexions with the help of an airbrush artist?

The increasingly popular trend among supermarket tabloids to feature undoctored images of makeup-free celebrities looking shockingly ordinary offers the welcome relief of a little Schadenfreude – being reminded that not even Halle Berry looks like Halle Berry without digital enhancement reassures us about our own imperfections. And the staggering success of Dove’s campaign for “real beauty” underscores the appeal of authentic imagery.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. A growing body of research documents the damage done by increasingly unattainable physical ideals on the self-esteem of young girls and adult women alike. The punishing comparisons with perfection help to trigger anorexia in those predisposed to it, and health professionals are clear that commercial media images are significant contributing factors to depression, bulimia and the skyrocketing increase in cosmetic surgery procedures.

The good news is that avoiding exposure to such imagery can have a remarkably positive impact on the way women feel about themselves. And when people become more aware of this, they’re increasingly likely to either press for the kind of responsibility being considered in the U.K., or to stop buying the magazines entirely.

Consider the views of the fashion industry’s most sought-after target market. Last year, with the professional assistance of EKOS Research, Media Watch – recently renamed Media Action/Action Media – conducted focus groups with young women from across Canada who were asked their impressions of the dominant image of women in popular media.

“Skinny,” “sleazy” and “stupid” were the representative adjectives volunteered by the 14- to 24-year-olds who were canvassed in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. All the young women expressed universal frustration with pervasive images of “flawless” female bodies (read slim and large breasted), and the disproportionate attention seemingly paid to those women eager to minimize the amount of fabric between their skin and the camera.

While current media practices unfortunately suggest that Media Action remains as relevant today as it was 25 years ago, the savvy cynicism and growing trend among young women to create their own alternative media content is fuelling renewed activism and – hopefully – much needed change.

http://www.thestar.com/columnists/article/416141

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PPA working group on digital enhancements
http://www.ppa.co.uk/cgi-bin/go.pl/news/article.html?uid=12486

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said other large events had transformed host cities into hotspots for the sex industry.

The issues of exploitation and trafficking at the 2014 Games will be debated in a motion at the STUC’s annual congress next week.

Glasgow beat the Nigerian city, Abuja, to host the games.

Speaking ahead of the annual congress, STUC general secretary Grahame Smith, said: “There is evidence from organisations that have been involved in this issue that events like the World Cup or the Olympic Games, where you have large numbers of men attending, the availability of certain services and the demand for these increases.”

He said there was a need to ensure that when the Commonwealth Games come to Glasgow the city does not become a “magnet for traffickers”.

Mary Senior, STUC assistant secretary, added: “The STUC is absolutely delighted the Commonwealth Games has come to Glasgow.

“We just want to ensure that people are not exploited.”

A spokesman for the Glasgow 2014 Organising Company (OC) said: “The OC supports attention being drawn to the tragic issue of human trafficking.

“While the scale of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 mean they are much less of a magnet for such issues, any exploitation is unacceptable and we will continue to support the relevant authorities working in this area.”

Also high up the agenda at the STUC congress will be concerns over the economy, the need for a balanced energy strategy and fears that technology is allowing “cyber bullying” of some workers.

The theme for the 2008 gathering, whose keynote speakers include First Minister Alex Salmond, is ‘Equality and Justice’.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7352997.stm

See “Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland

On 4th April we included a news story “A degree of difficulty for feminism as students change the subject” which gave the impression that the last Women’s Studies course was coming to an end.

Since then we’ve been contacted by a reader of womensphere to tell us that although widespread these rumours are untrue!

A search of the web revealed these universities still listing Women’s Studies on their web sites.

Bangor University
* Women’s Studies (MA/Diploma/Certificate)

University of Oxford
* One-year interdisciplinary Master’s degree

Lancaster University Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies
* Women’s Studies undergraduate first year programme, the Master’s Programmes in Women’s Studies, and PhD supervision

University of York Centre for Women’s Studies
* MA in Women’s Studies

Ruskin College Oxford
* MA in Women’s Studies (next course not due until 2009)

London Metropolitan University
* BA Womens Studies is available in joint, major or minor combinations and is available in either full or part-time (day or evening) mode.

University of Bradford
* MA Gender and Women’s Studies

And there may well be more … In addition the Independent has now posted to its web site the following story:

Women’s studies are alive and well
Media reports have declared that the subject is dead. But our investigation shows it is surviving – and tackling today’s issues.

Apologies for our unquestioning use of a mainstream media story!

Launch of research into attitudes of men who have bought sex

Monday 28th April 2008 from 9.30am – 12.30pm
The Teacher Building, 14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow

The Women’s Support Project, in conjunction with Prostitution Research & Education, completed research interviews in Scotland with 110 men who have bought sex in prostitution.

Findings include demographics, buyers’ attitudes toward and justifications for prostitution, acceptance of rape myths, sexual behaviours, commission of sexually coercive behaviour toward prostitute and non-prostitute partners, likelihood-to-rape, history of using women in prostitution, evaluations and perceptions of women in prostitution, first use of women in prostitution, views on what would have to change to end prostitution, and what would deter them from buying sex. The findings will be used to inform education and prevention work.

Please note that places are limited, and that you should register as soon as possible, either by telephoning 0141 552 2221 or by email You will then receive confirmation that you have a place.

Those who supported the prostitution laws designed to take prostitutes off the streets can’t say they weren’t warned.

Judging by statistics released by the Edinburgh prostitute support group Scotpep, the worst fears of those who said prohibition would put the women in greater danger have been fully realised.

A doubling of the number of attacks since streetwalking was effectively outlawed should be a matter of extreme concern, but the political mood swing away from tolerance means there is little chance of a return to the previous position, where the trade was allowed to continue in controlled zones away from residential districts.

Of course, the perpetrators of violence should be the first to be condemned, and there is no excuse for attacks on vulnerable women, no matter how they earn their living. But the fact remains that the new laws have put these women in greater danger than was previously the case.

Admittedly there are fewer women on the streets, but there is no evidence the numbers involved in prostitution have dropped and instead they are finding other clandestine ways to meet with clients. This should be no surprise, because the new regulations have done nothing to tackle the broader reasons for women selling themselves in this way – usually drug or alcohol addiction.

According to Scotpep, those who continue to work outdoors are more vulnerable to attack from the remaining customers, as the more “respectable” men have effectively been forced away, leaving the even more unsavoury individuals who don’t care if they are prosecuted for kerb-crawling.

So much is made of the Swedish example, where buying sex was made illegal years ago, but it seems the vice trade is experiencing a resurgence. But a proper comparison with Sweden must include all social factors and not just anti-prostitution laws. Levels of drug addiction are far lower than here and the number of active prostitutes is accordingly low. Further, Swedes down on their luck also have a generous welfare safety net, which means fewer women are driven by economic necessity to go on The Game.

The kerb-crawling laws have done nothing to alter the desire of some men to buy sex and the majority who do not inflict violence, however sad or seedy, have been turned from otherwise law-abiding men into potential criminals.

Both groups of people are in need of help, not the force of criminal law or the condemnation of extremists.

http://news.scotsman.com/opinion/Prostitution-39Worst-fears-are-now.3980915.jp

Health Minister Shona Robison visited a women’s refuge in Glasgow yesterday to announce £22m of funding to help victims of domestic violence. The money will be used to support centres and projects across Scotland which help women and children who have taken steps to leave behind their violent homes.

The refuge is run by Glasgow Women’s Aid, which will receive £1.1m over three years from a fund which targets work done with children who have experienced domestic abuse. Family worker Elaine, who cannot be fully identified because of the high level of security at the refuge, said the funding is “vital”.

“Without this kind of support women would not be able to move on from abusive situations and get their lives back on track. We can help to ensure their safety and wellbeing, and allow the women and their children to have choices in life. Children can come here with a whole range of issues and here they can learn to live without fear.”

The funding announced yesterday forms part of the £44.54m budget for tackling violence against women and addressing issues, including rape and sexual assault, forced marriage and sexual exploitation.

Ms Robison said yesterday: “Violence against women continues to devastate the lives of too many women and children in Scotland.” During the visit Ms Robison met a resident who has lived at the refuge with her children after escaping her violent ex-husband three months ago.

The woman said: “I had a lovely, lovely house. I couldn’t have wanted better. But if you get to the point where you do not want to leave your bedroom, or jump every time the doorbell goes, those lovely things mean nothing. People used to say our family was like The Waltons, but it really wasn’t. I would rather be in the gutter and feel safe than have everything and feel afraid. It just so happened I didn’t have to go to the gutter. I could come here instead.”

http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.2199577.0.22m_to_aid_domestic_abuse_victims.php

About 175 members of Parliament in the United Kingdom have signed a motion that calls on the Department for International Development to place women at the center of its HIV/AIDS strategies worldwide, the Herald Express reports. The motion, part of the “Women Matter” campaign run by the group VSO, also calls on DFID to influence other international agencies to focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women. In addition, the motion aims to ensure that men are involved with HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

The “Women Matter” campaign aims to highlight how violence, discrimination and inequality place women in sub-Saharan Africa at an increased risk of HIV. “The world must sit up and listen to what’s happening, and I shall be pressing the government to ensure that this issue is given the attention it deserves,” said MP Richard Younger-Ross, who has signed the motion.

http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=51402

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* Read more about VSO’s Women Matter at http://www.vso.org.uk/womenmatter/

* Use their online form to ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 912: Women, Girls and HIV and AIDS

That this House recognises that around the world women and girls are being disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS; notes that gender inequality, violence and discrimination are driving the feminisation of the pandemic; recognises that many HIV and AIDS programmes do not adequately address the specific needs and rights of women and girls; and therefore calls on the Government to show international leadership by placing them at the centre of its revised HIV and AIDS strategy, ensuring men are actively involved as part of the solution.

by going to http://campaign.publicaffairsbriefing.co.uk/emailsupport.aspx?cid=36f342f3-e8df-4bcb-bac5-af8348d84a88

* See earlier story More women and children receiving HIV and AIDS treatment – UNICEF report at https://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/more-women-and-children-receiving-hiv-and-aids-treatment-%e2%80%93-unicef-report/

“If people join us now, they will be in at the beginning of something potentially revolutionary,” says Maggie Baxter, talking about the upcoming launch of the new UK Women’s Fund. Maggie Baxter is one of those rare people who combine inspiration with pragmatism; she has spent more than 30 years in the voluntary sector, from grants director of Comic Relief to director of Womankind Worldwide; yet she has never lost the idealism that has driven her from the start of her career. “When you see the difference that actually quite small amounts of money can make, in well run and well led projects, then you do feel optimistic about how funds like this can change lives.”

There are more than 200 women’s funds in the world, stretching from the Ukraine to Ghana, from India to the USA, where there are dozens – while we are still waiting for a national women’s fund in the UK. Elsewhere, these funds – which include well known organisations such as the Global Fund for Women and MamaCash, through to community funds such as the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee – are successful in channelling money towards women’s organisations.

In doing so they fill a real need, because grant-making is often blind to the fundamental inequalities between men and women, which means that women’s organisations lose out. “I was first really aware of this when I went to Africa for Comic Relief in the 1990s,” says Baxter, “I saw how women do all the work and yet are so unrecognised. In a less obvious way, the same is still true of the UK – the work that the women’s sector does, whether it’s in protecting women from violence or campaigning for political equality – still tends to get sidelined, which means that women’s organisations remain horribly underfunded, despite superficial equality elsewhere in society.”

Alice Hooper at the branding agency Rainey Kelly, who has been working on the launch of the UK Women’s Fund, was struck by the response of the women in the focus groups they talked to: “At first women said that they didn’t see the point of a special women’s fund, but when we presented them with the real needs on the grounds for many women, particularly around sexual violence – how rape crisis lines are being cut, how women who flee trafficking can’t find support – we saw a change in the room. Women began to join up the dots. They saw the connections between these issues and issues such as a lack of political representation.”

The fund will aim to draw in new money from people who may not have been attracted to philanthropy in the past, as well as influence existing funders to invest in women. In other countries where women’s funds have taken off, Baxter has noted that they foster a spirit of sisterhood and solidarity, which she is keen to see take off in the UK too. “There is a strong sense of self-interest in our society at the moment, a sense that ‘if I’m all right I can ignore those who aren’t’. But I think when you encourage people to realise that they can be part of a movement to grow a better society, they are drawn to that.” Hooper agrees: “There is the potential for a huge leap here. Just recently it wasn’t at all cool to be green, and that has turned around. I think the same could happen with women’s issues – that it could become cool for women to get involved in empowering other women.”

http://www.philanthropyuk.org/Newsletter/Mar2008Issue32/UKWomensFundtolaunch

British courts are overturning decisions taken by immigration officers that would have protected men and women from being forced into marriage.

The director of UK Visas said that appeals to the courts were often successful because people sponsoring foreigners to enter Britain were too frightened to admit that the applicants were being forced into marriage. Mark Sedwill said that 452 visas for Pakistani applicants were refused last year on the ground of family abuse, of which the majority were because of fears of forced marriage. He said that 116 cases were taken to appeal and 37 were successful.

Victims of forced marriage may even have been put in the position of giving evidence to the immigration tribunal in Britain to back their spouses’ appeals, Mr Sedwill admitted. “This is the real tragedy of this situation, that sponsors are forced into this position,” he told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into domestic violence yesterday.

The only right of appeal against the immigration tribunal’s decision is on a point of law.

Mr Sedwill said that sponsors of spouses or fiancées were often unwilling to make a public statement about the nature of the family abuse, including forced marriage, because they were frightened of the family reaction. He said that, of the 452 refusals, 252 involved British citizens who had reluctantly been required to sponsor an applicant from Pakistan and 86 were vulnerable adults, including people who were severely disabled.

One of the cases involved a disabled man in his early thirties whose parents could no longer look after him, so they attempted to marry him to a girl from the Indian sub-continent, he said.

In addition, there were 30 reluctant sponsors of Bangladeshi visa applications and 12 of Indian applications.

Overall 5,500 spousal settlement applications from the Indian sub-continent were refused last year, he said. “Within that 5,500 there are quite a number of cases where there has been some sort of compulsion, where the couple have not met or are under 18,” Mr Sedwill told MPs.

The committee was also told that people who sponsored an applicant for a visa were not routinely interviewed by officials, despite growing concern within the Government about the issue of forced marriage.

Applicants are interviewed formally and have to answer between 50 and 100 questions.

Mr Sedwill said: “They [sponsors] don’t necessarily go through a formal process of interview. In all of those cases where a sponsor has let us know that forced marriage is an issue, the sponsor will be interviewed either by telephone or in person.

“It’s not an immigration interview, but they will be interviewed by consular staff or by the forced marriage unit in the UK in order to gather the information that allows us to make a decision.”

Meg Munn, a junior Foreign Office Minister, said that one reason why sponsors were not interviewed was because of the “sheer volume” of the situation. A total of 47,000 spouses entered Britain on settlement visas last year, including 17,000 from the Indian sub-continent.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, accused the Government of complacency. “I do not understand why the sponsor and the applicant cannot be interviewed to find out if the marriage is genuine or not,” he said.

Forced Marriage Unit’s phone number, to be called if you are worried that you or someone you know may be forced into marriage: 0207008 0151

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3621619.ece

Labour’s Deputy Leader at Holyood has hit out at plans to unveil a series of Hooters* restaurants in Scotland. The US-chain that insists that its all-female waiting staff wear skimpy outfits is planning to open in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Cathy Jamieson, said that she was hopeful that the restaurants would be rejected by both the public and local authorities. She said:

“Scotland does not want these so-called restaurants coming to our cities. This kind of American import is one that we can do without. Violence against women is a big problem in Scotland and these types of establishments do nothing to promote equality or positive images of women in the workplace. Hooters is a rather old fashioned 1980s concept and here in the 21st Century I think both men and women have moved on from this kind of quite degrading spectacle.”

Ms Jamieson’s comments were echoed by women’s and student’s groups across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Women’s Aid said:

“A company that not only promotes, but demands the objectification of women in the workplace should have no place in Scotland. As a country we have been committed to gender equality for many years now and are the envy of other nations because of our strong stance. Welcoming a company such as Hooters would most definitely undermine the government’s strong position on this.”

A Spokesman for Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation said:

“The Scottish Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation is very concerned about the prospect of a chain like Hooters opening up in Scotland. Using women’s bodies in such a blatant way to sell a product is sexism at its worst. Women’s bodies are not commodities. If we are to challenge the high levels of violence against women in our country, we need to end this kind of objectification of women, not invite it into our high streets.”

NUS Scotland Women’s Officer Sarah Watson said:

“Thousands of students across Scotland face financial hardship and the idea that some could be attracted to jobs in these so-called restaurants is deeply troubling. The link between female objectification and violence against women is well known and establishments such as Hooters do little to challenge female degradation.”

http://www.gvawp.org.uk/InfoWorkers/SCASE.htm

* Hooters in the US is based solely on having almost naked female employees working in their restaurants. Hooter female staff must have their breasts exposed for the predominantly male customers. Hence the term ‘Hooters.’

The Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize is awarded each year to commemorate the life and work of Emma Humphreys who tragically died, aged 30, in 1998. Emma was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners. The annual prize of £1,000 is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children.

Alongside the individual prize, the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize judges choose the recipient of a group award, established to recognise the unsung work done by many women’s groups and organisations. This award, while it does not at this time carry any financial reward, marks the outstanding contribution of women’s organisations who work in this embattled area and whose creativity and resourcefulness have resulted in developments that combat the prevalence of male violence.

Criteria to consider in nominating a woman for the individual prize:

* The individual woman should be someone who, through writing or campaigning, has sought to raise awareness of violence against women and children

* While she may have done this work as part of her paid employment, the judges will give priority to those nominees whose campaigning or writing has clearly extended outside of the paid work environment, or been conducted on a voluntary basis

* Nominators should ensure that the supporting statement focuses on the achievements of the individual woman herself rather than describing the achievements of the project/organisation she works for

* Judges will give due consideration to the issue around which the individual woman has been working, and may prioritise a nomination that they deem to highlight a pressing political imperative for feminist campaigning in the present

* In completing the supporting statement, nominators should attempt to point out the particular and unique aspects of the work which is commended in the nomination; it is not necessary to provide a full biography

* Nominators should be confident that, should their nominee be awarded the prize, she would be willing to participate in some related media interviews or events, in discussion with the organisers of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

Criteria to consider in nominating a women’s group or organisation for the group award:

* The group or organisation should have done important work in raising awareness of violence against women and children, and have sought to bring about change

* It would be helpful if the nominator could draw attention to any particular obstacles the group has encountered

* The nominator should try to give examples of any initiatives which best exemplify the resourcefulness of the group or organisation in carrying forward work which seeks to combat violence against women and children

* It would be helpful if the nominator could indicate, where possible, how effective certain strategies or developments adopted by the group have been in combating the prevalence of such violence

* The nominator should give a brief explanation of the funding status of the group, and how the award might be used to help assist the group in future

To download a nomination form go to http://www.emmahumphreys.org/nominations.html

Read about previous years’ winners at http://www.emmahumphreys.org/winners.html

In 2008 the fourteenth annual Carers Week will highlight the impact caring can have on your health and wellbeing. The results of this survey will be at the centre of Carers Week publicity and activity, and will be sent to Government and all national politicians, to healthcare professionals and others who have powers and responsibilities that can help to improve the health and quality of life of carers.

We want to hear about your experience of being a carer; the rewards and the frustrations, and the effects on your health. What are the implications for you, as well as for the person you care for?

Carers Week is organised by ten leading charities to support the UK’s six million carers. Last year over 1,000 local partners organised more than 6,000 events and activities; in 2008 we aim for the number to be even greater.

Our key aims are for Carers Week to:
* Highlight and celebrate the contribution made by carers
* Campaign for better support and services for carers
* Promote policies and best practice that can improve carers’ quality of life
* Reach out to ‘hidden’ carers, ensuring they know where to find help and support

This survey should only take a few minutes of your time to complete. Many thanks for your assistance, and for ensuring that carers voices are heard loud and clear.

To complete the survey go to http://www.carersweeksurvey.org.uk
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The previously announced closing date for the survey was Monday 31st March, but we plan to extend that by a few days, to the end of the week.

The results of the survey form the centrepiece of Carers Week. And the survey is a key tool in the work we carry out with the media, with MPs and with professionals, who can all have such an effect on carers’ lives. It’s not just ticking the boxes; the comments carers add also help to inform all the work we do.

We need to ensure that the survey is representative of carers from all parts of the UK so if you’re in touch with carers in your area please forward this message on to them.

http://www.carersweek.org

As many as 300 young women are believed to be coerced into marriage against their will annually in Scotland, with violence and even murder being the result in a small number of cases.

England is introducing new civil laws to ban the practice south of the border, but heads of the Islamic community in Scotland are pushing for new criminal sanctions.

As well as prosecuting husbands for rape, relatives involved in forced marriages could find themselves charged with aiding and abetting a crime.

Among those leading the campaign is Bashir Ahmad, a Nationalist MSP in Glasgow, who became aware of the extent of forced marriage while a councillor in the city.

He said: “If forced marriages were a criminal offence it would be a real deterrent and I will be bringing forward a Private Members Bill on this. Making it a civil offence might be a good first step but it may not go far enough.”

Osama Saeed, chairman of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation, said forced marriages were slowly on the decline, but added: “I cannot help but feel this would be speeded along by effective legislation in the area. Last year the Forced Marriages Act brought in civil measures to deal with the issue in England. This gives the courts more powers to step in to help victims, even before an actual wedding has taken place.”

But he said Westmisnter had “shied away” from creating a specific criminal offence. “This was because MPs took the view that it may stop victims coming forward to seek help if a parent would go to jail as a result. I don’t see why criminality can’t be an option, with it being left to the victim whether or not to press charges. I do wonder why offences such as rape have not been used to prosecute to date.

“Creating new legislation now though, to deal with the incidents of forced marriage that do exist, will send out a strong message that this violation of human rights will not be tolerated.”

Forced marriages – which are different from the accepted practice of arranged marriages – are still part of life in Britain’s Asian communities. In 1996, before becoming Britain’s first Muslim MP, Mohammad Sarwar travelled to Pakistan to bring back two Glasgow girls, Rifat Haq, 20, and sister Nazia, 13, who had been forced into marriage by their father.

Around 300 cases of forced marriage are reported to the UK Government’s Forced Marriage Unit every year although campaigners believe the true figure is much higher. More than 80% of victims of forced marriages are women, most between the ages of 15 and 24.

Last month, an English coroner concluded that 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed had been unlawfully killed because she had resisted efforts to force her into an unwanted marriage.

The new civil legislation being introduced by Westminster will create a list of ‘third parties’, such as teachers, social workers, women’s rights groups and local councils, who would have the authority to go to court to try to prevent families from forcing their children into marriage in Britain.

Those served with a forced marriage protection order would be required to stop the marriage and stay away from the victim. A breach of the order would be classed as contempt of court and liable to a heavy fine or up to two years in jail.

Nuzrat Raza, who runs a refuge for women fleeing forced marriages in Glasgow, said: “The legislation in Scotland is not adequate and we need something that addresses the question of forced marriages directly. We need the English legislation at the very least. ”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was looking at whether it should create civil legislation on forced marriage. “We will seek the views of the public, including those affected by forced marriage and the agencies providing support to them,” she said.

Saima doesn’t know which was the worst. The constant emotional pressure from her father to travel to Pakistan to marry a man she didn’t know or the beating by her younger brother, trying to intimidate her into bending to her father’s will.

Saima, not her real name, was just 18 when the nagging began in her Glasgow home. But with her mother having reluctantly fled to escape her abusive father, she decided to stay behind to protect her two younger sisters.

She said. “My father would just use this heavy, heavy emotional blackmail to try to get me to agree, saying: ‘It would make me so proud if you were to get married. It’s not like he dragged me out of the house and forced me on to a plane to Pakistan but just this constant pressure. It was hard resisting but I would rather have a hard life than an unhappy one. My mum had enough of that.”

Her fathers’ justification was that with three teenage daughters to look after, he needed them to be married off at a young age. His brother agreed and one night attacked Saima to try to get her to change her mind. “He beat me up,” she says simply. “But I was determined not to give in because I didn’t know what would happen to my sisters.”

Last year, with her youngest sister now living in England with her mother she and her other sister took the decision to also flee the family home. Saima and her sister sought help at a refuge for women who have been victims or potential victims of forced marriages. They now share a flat and have cut all contact.

“I have never spoken to my dad or my brother since we left. There is no justification at all for what they wanted me to do.”

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/scotland/Husbands–in-forced-marriages.3906435.jp

Petition to the Prime Minister

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to provide proper funding for Rape Crisis. We commend the invaluable work of Rape Crisis in bringing much needed support to people affected by sexual violence often years after the offences have taken place. We note with sadness that in 1984 there were 68 affiliated members of Rape Crisis (England and Wales) but now there are just 38. We believe this is a failure of successive administrations and endorse the New Statesman’s campaign to secure proper funding from the government so existing Rape Crisis centres can continue their work and that new centres can open

Sign the Petition at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/RapeCrisis/#detail

See also latest articles from New Statesman Campaign:

Victory for Rape Crisis campaign

Minister for Women Harriet Harman announces £1 million in emergency funds for Rape Crisis’s work supporting the victims of sexual violence following the group’s campaign in conjunction with newstatesman.com

Minister for Women Harriet Harman has announced up to £1 million in emergency funding towards keeping Rape Crisis centres open, following a campaign by newstatesman.com in conjunction with Rape Crisis calling on the government to provide proper funding for the group’s work helping victims of sexual violence.

Speaking at Haven, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Camberwell, south London, on Tuesday, Harman said: “Rape Crisis England and Wales has done an important job in alerting us to the funding challenges faced at a local level by these rape crisis centres.

“We’ve stepped in with this emergency funding to help stop them from closing, while we sort out the longer term.”

“Rape is one of the most devastating offences for victims. It violates the basic right of women, men and children to be treated with dignity and respect.”

But Rape Crisis Chair Dr. Nicole Westmarland told newstatesman.com that more funding was needed.

“I am delighted that the government have put their heads together – and importantly their purses together! – to come up with this emergency fund for Rape Crisis Centres. We know the government do value Rape Crisis services, and we are pleased that they have announced this fund to help those that are most critical to stay open.

“In the longer term, more money is clearly needed to prevent this mess from arising again. Hopefully lessons learned in Scotland can be brought down to England and Wales and we can begin to ensure that all rape survivors have access to the support they deserve.”

They also have additional reports:

Scotland leads the way by Margaret Curran

The Rape Crisis crisis by Nicole Westmarland

What about rape victims? by Katherine Rake

Raped by person known by Davina James-Hanmen

See earlier story at https://womensphere.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/campaign-to-secure-funding-for-rape-crisis-centres-launched-by-the-new-statesman/

The Sheila McKechnie Awards are an annual bursary scheme for emerging and grassroots campaigners. Campaigners are a powerful force for change in our society but we know that the reality is often hard work and a lot of frustration. Our awards have been created to equip campaigners with the skills that they need to be successful. We focus on the ingredients for campaigning success and seek to share them with campaigners across the United Kingdom.

See full details at original posting Sheila McKechnie Awards 2008 for emerging and grassrootscampaigners

The first major scheme outside the justice system to tackle the behaviour of men with a history of domestic abuse is to be launched in Scotland.

The Working With Men pilot project has secured a £400,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, to roll out its unique programme for violent men who have not been in court in Edinburgh.

The idea of perpetrator programmes came to the UK from the US more than a decade ago and involve a mix of one-to-one counselling and self-help groups.

Until now, most re-education initiatives in Scotland have been court- mandated programmes for men convicted of domestic abuse offences. But as only a fraction of cases end up in court, the majority of perpetrators will never be referred to such a service.

Rory Macrae, senior social worker at the Working With Men project, said the approach aims to make culprits visible. Professionals such as GPs, social workers and health visitors are encouraged to give referrals to the scheme.

“With the traditional response in relation to child protection, the tendency has been to work with the mothers who are experiencing the abuse,” he said. “What seems the more logical way is to say to the man you are using this behaviour, you are damaging your children and we expect you, rather than her to change’.”

Evaluations of the project indicate around two-thirds of men can be helped. Macrae pointed out a vital aspect of the initiative was a support and safety planning service for the men’s partners, which runs concurrently with the re-education element of the programme.

Michele Corcoran, manager of Edinburgh Women’s Aid, welcomed the scheme, but pointed out it should be seen as an additional enhancement to current services.

“We still need services that protect and support women and they go hand in hand with services to make men accountable,” she said.

http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2104839.0.0.php

Scottish Law Commission proposals do not go far enough, claims Elish Angiolini

The Lord Advocate has called for a radical reform of Scotland’s rape laws in order to change the country’s historically low conviction rates.

Speaking at a Rape Crisis Scotland conference, Elish Angiolini said law reforms need to go further than those proposed by the Scottish Law Commission. Ms Angiolini has challenged the requirement for corroboration, amending which she says would improve the situation.

The Scottish Law Commission’s recommendations are likely to be included in the forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill, which will result in a clear definition of consent in rape cases.

Ms Angiolini wants the law to go further to tackle Scotland’s conviction rates – currently at about 4% of reported rape cases. She said Scotland’s rape laws were among the most restrictive in the western world and that the definition of rape varied wildly from country to country.

The requirement for corroboration is a fundamental principle of the Scottish legal system. The Lord Advocate said this needs to be looked at if the bid to reform rape laws is to be taken seriously. She thought the Commission’s proposals at present would not make much difference to rape conviction rates.

However, she said she was encouraged that the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had asked the Commission to look at the law of evidence, as reforms of both the law of evidence and substantive law could help make changes.

Ms Angiolini added that she thought the “Moorov doctrine”, which enables a pattern of offending to be proved even though each individual offence is only spoken to by one witness, should be extended to help prosecutors prove more sex crimes. This would work in cases where an offender had abused younger siblings, gone on to abuse their own children and eventually their own grandchildren. Currently, courts will only apply the Moorov rule where offences have taken place within a period of a few years.

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/news/1005054.aspx

Sheila McKechnie Awards 2008

The Sheila McKechnie Awards are an annual bursary scheme for emerging and grassroots campaigners. Campaigners are a powerful force for change in our society but we know that the reality is often hard work and a lot of frustration. Our awards have been created to equip campaigners with the skills that they need to be successful. We focus on the ingredients for campaigning success and seek to share them with campaigners across the United Kingdom.

In 2008 we will be making 12 awards across key fields of social action http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSub.php?id=55&page=3. Categories in 2008 have been sponsored by the following organisations / individuals.
* Conflict Resolution sponsored by Peace Direct
* Consumer Action sponsored by Which?
* Economic Justice sponsored by Joseph Rowntree Foundation / Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
* Environment sponsored by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
* Global Action in memory of Guy Hughes
* Health & Social Care sponsored by Age Concern
* International Award sponsored by Concern Worldwide
* London Social Justice sponsored by City Parochial Foundation
* Shout Out! Award sponsored by City Bridge Trust
* Social Inclusion sponsored by Shelter
* Transport sponsored by Simon Norton
* Young Activist sponsored by Foyer Federation / YMCA England

The package of support we offer is completely bespoke to the individual, comprising an initial assessment; one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions; development workshops; and shadowing opportunities http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSubSub.php?id=59&page=3&last=87.

The awards do not offer cash prizes but focus on sharing the key ingredients for campaigning success by drawing on the expertise of experienced campaigners and using a model of action learning to share knowledge and acquire skills.

Who are the Awards for?

The awards scheme has been developed specifically for campaigners new to the field or operating with very little resources to equip them with the skills they need to make a greater impact and achieve real change.

The awards are for people who want to make a greater impact with their campaigns, whether it be to change policy or raise their issue’s profile at a local, national or international level. You could be working as a campaigner in a national pressure group or campaigning charity or you may be working alone or in an organisation where campaigning is a very new activity. The awards can also help you if you are campaigning on a voluntary basis in your spare time. Many of our award winners have been volunteers and we have helped them secure new resources to support their campaigns and focus on how they can use their limited time to best effect. (In the last 2 years, we have awarded 49 beneficiaries of which 34 have been women)

What will I learn?

The awards can help develop a campaign strategy, examine the impact that you have made so far or consider how your can build support for campaigning activity in your wider organisation. You will get direct advice from people who have a track record of running successful campaigns and others who have a strong insight into how policymakers approach key decisions.

The awards are also a chance for you to learn new skills & tactics. For example, you might have a lot of experience in media work but not know about the tactics necessary to influence ministers in Whitehall. You might want to expand your skills in specialist areas, such as understanding the campaigning opportunities present in the Freedom of Information Act. The awards are also a chance to get an independent assessment of your campaign, considering areas like how you can expand your alliances and identify how much progress you have made towards achieving your objectives.

The awards can help you get a better understanding of how government works. For example, previous award winners recieved public affairs coaching from experts at AS Biss & Co and were given the opportunity to shadow ministers relevant to their campaign.

The awards will put you in contact with campaigners who share similar challenges to you but work in other sectors. We recognise that there are many opportunities to work together across issues and sectors and discuss challenges and successes.

The awards provide opportunities for you to develop skills that are relevant not simply to the campaign you are working on now but to campaigns that you may work on in future.

What’s the time commitment involved?

The programme runs over a period of 6 months. However, because the awards programme is bespoke to each campaigner, the support package is very flexible to your needs and timescale will be determined in consultation with you.

http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/showSub.php?id=87&page=3

Applications for the Foundation’s awards scheme can be made by downloading a form from the http://www.sheilamckechnie.org.uk/awards or by emailing awards@sheilamckechnie.org.uk

APPPLICATIONS CLOSE 5PM, 14 MARCH 2008

(Originally posted at http://freecharity.org.uk/pipermail/womeninlondontraining/2008-March/date.html)