Find our latest news, blogs and statements here.If you are a journalist looking for a comment or are interested in working with us on a story, contact us on coordinator[at]scottishwomensrightscentre.org.uk or call 0141 331 4183.
The seismic vote that took place in Ireland this time last week is a milestone for progress and for the rights of women to live free from control. Rightly it is being celebrated, as is the work of countless activists that brought us to this point, but the fight to liberate women from abuses of power and coercion is not restricted to our bodies, and it is happening right here in Scotland, right now.One reason we at the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre were so invested in the result of the Irish referendum is because the limitation of access to contraception and abortion is a form of gender-based violence in itself. Another is that for women who experience domestic abuse this - frequently coupled with sexual violence - is a tactic often used by perpetrators to control their partner.
As part of Stalking Awareness Week and to celebrate the launch of our new resource on Reporting Stalking we checked in for a quick Q&A with Sarah who works at a local Women’s Aid service to find out how she is getting on using FollowItApp, our innovative new mobile app that supports victim-survivors of stalking to document their experience.
Very often there’s a mismatch between people’s idea of what stalking is, and what the law in Scotland has to say. Scots Law says that the crime of stalking is a course of conduct - this means an incident that takes place two or more times - that places another person in a state of fear or alarm. That means that non-criminal acts, for example sending a text message that says ‘your hair looks nice today’, become criminal and can therefore be reported when they happen twice or more and when they cause the victim to feel afraid. The above text could easily make someone feel afraid, because this is intended to let them know that they are being watched. There are no rules about who can and can’t be a stalker; it can be a friend, acquaintance, or even a total stranger, but most of the time it is a partner or ex-partner and stalking is often experienced as part of domestic abuse.
Jennifer Dalziel, a solicitor with JustRight Scotland and the project solicitor for the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre – a collaboration between JustRight Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland and Strathclyde University Law Clinic which runs helplines and surgeries on legal issues facing women – says that she has noticed an increase in the number of enquiries about sexual harassment in the two years since their helplines began in 2015.
She suspects this is due to women’s increasing awareness of their rights rather than that it’s happening more.
“Not to say that that gives them an easy route forward, but that they are more aware that it shouldn’t be happening,” she says.
The last session of the Scottish Women's Rights Centre helpline for 2017 will be Friday the 22nd of December from 10am – 1pm. It will then be closed, reopening on Wednesday the 3rd of January 2018 as normal.
The Glasgow surgery will hold its final surgery for 2017 on the 18th of December and then will also close for the festive period, reopening on the Monday the 15th of January 2018.
The Scottish Women's Rights Centre would like to wish you all a peaceful and happy festive season when it comes.
As with lots crimes, when it comes to stalking there can be a mismatch between what the crime actually is, and what we think it is. Decades of sensationalised stories and soap opera plots of mysterious men lurking in the shadows have had a big influence on how we imagine stalking, and unless it’s happened to you, or to one of your loved ones, why would you know the ins and outs of actual stalking legislation?
© Copyright Laura Dodsworth