Services working to reduce violence against women have launched two weeks of campaigning across Perth and Kinross.
“We are not done yet” was the message of the day from an expert panel at an event hosted by Perth and Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership.
The Question Time session was the first of 13 events, including marches, silent vigils, talks and performances.
It is part of an international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign by the United Nations.
Karyn McCluskey, chief executive of Community Justice Scotland, spoke at Wednesday’s event in Perth Theatre.
She said: “I have always thought Scotland could be the safest country in the world.
“There has been great change but it has not been enough. Everyone can do something and nobody is safe until everybody is safe. We are not done yet – we are far from done.”
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The panel included representatives from Women’s Aid, Perth and Kinross Association of Voluntary Services (PKAVS), Perthshire Women’s Aid and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASAC). It was chaired by Rose Fitzpatrick, former deputy chief constable of Police Scotland.
The consensus in the room was individual organisations do good work but in a time of shrinking budgets and increasing demand, they must work together to see more change.
Rachel Coleman, therapeutic support team leader for RASAC Perth and Kinross, said demand for rape support services is rocketing every year.
“It really strikes me that in the face of such adversity women will survive and can thrive. In Perth, we are working with survivors of rape and domestic abuse and violence within marriages is part of that but rape outwith marriages, child sexual abuse, exploitation and stalking are huge issues.
“Attitudes are changing but we still have a blame culture and people point out how short a victim’s skirt was. It takes a huge amount of courage to access services and when there are additional barriers it is even harder.”
Events continue with a one-woman performance by actress Naomi Breeze at Perth’s Salvation Army on Monday. Her production is aimed at showing how one person’s behaviour and attitude can affect those around them. It will also be performed at Perth Prison.
On Thursday afternoon, a silent vigil will be held in Perth High Street, as part of an international event, before Reclaim the Night, a march through the city centre to demonstrate women’s right to walk the streets at night without fear.
Next Friday Jasvinder Sanghera, a survivor or forced marriage, will speak at Perth Theatre about her experience and support for people facing honour-based violence.
The 16 Days events finish on Monday December 10 at the Royal George Hotel in Perth, where information will be given about the help available to women, children and young people who have faced domestic abuse.
A full list of events is available at pkvawp.org/news/16-days-of-activism-2018-calendar/.