Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called on the Scottish Government to provide more secure funding for Women’s Aid.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament she highlighted the “huge pressure” on Women’s Aid refuges and other services as a result of the removal of ring-fenced funding, and the increased funding pressures that local authorities face due to a shrinking share of Scottish Government finance coupled with the freeze on Council Tax.
“We need a stronger commitment, matched by funding, to ensure that women, children and young people always have full access to specialist domestic abuse services.
“On 24 September, Women’s Aid groups across Scotland took part in a 24-hour census. On that day, 101 women contacted Women’s Aid for the first time; 47 women requested refuge for themselves and their children. 31 women and 25 children could not be accommodated, mainly because of a lack of appropriate refuge space.
“It was found that women without refuge were likely to stay with their families or friends or to get temporary accommodation through local authorities, but some women had to return to their abusive partner. Four women had to be turned away because they had no recourse to public funds. Those women cannot be accommodated by a Women’s Aid group; for them, the options are even more limited. Most are forced to return to their abusive partner.”
During the debate, which was held to mark the 16 days of activism against gender violence, Cathy also referred to the “global pandemic of violence against women and girls”, citing examples of stories from around the world, reporting the huge numbers of women who experience violence, and the obstacles they face getting help. She congratulated those who were making a stand, including Scottish referees, footballers and police who took part in the White Ribbon Campaign
Cathy has helped to organise a series of events in parliament during the 16 days, including an Interfaith meeting on Domestic Abuse; a play, “Don’t Say A Word”; and on Wednesday this week, a meeting to discuss progress since the fourth world conference on women, held in Beijing in 1995, as part of a series of Beijing+15 events leading up to the 15th anniversary in March.
“We need to tackle the causes of gender violence, to show that women and children can live their lives without fear of violence and abuse. As the theme of this year’s 16 days says: Commit, act, demand — we can end violence against women.”