Several cities across Scotland provided a platform for peaceful protests against gender-based violence last week.
The events were held to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
A Reclaim the Night march in Dundee highlighted concerns over an emerging, and deeply disturbing, trend of needle spiking.
It follows claims that unsuspecting females in pubs or clubs have been jabbed with substances historically used in drinks.
History has not always been kind to women. Neither is the present in many ways.
In the 28 weeks after Sarah Everard’s murder in March at least 80 women in the UK were allegedly killed by men.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics in March – the same month Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a Metropolitan police officer – estimated 4.9 million women have experienced sexual assault.
Protests aren’t just for women
Demonstrations are a high profile way of drawing attention to the issues.
In an interview earlier this month, Ann Hamilton, chairwoman of the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership, called for more men to support them.
She said: “Violence against women is often seen as a women’s issue, when really it is male violence that is the problem.”
A laudable sentiment.
But it would be more powerful still if men took care to instil in their sons respect towards women, starting in their homes.
Why did people decided to get involved in the Reclaim the Night march in Dundee?
— Amie Flett (@AmieFlett) November 27, 2021
Marriage, commitment and parenthood anchor men by confronting them with their responsibility as leaders of their families in a way the culture of instant commitment-free sexual gratification does not.
This applies in areas such as online dating and to pornographic material which objectifies women and diminishes their personhood.
Reports suggested “brutal pornography” was a motivating feature in the actions of Wayne Couzens towards Sarah Everard.
Are demonstrations for the converted?
My fear is that public demonstrations may not change hearts and minds because they tend to attract men who already agree violence towards women is unacceptable.
More effective might be encouragement to engage with public consultations on legislation such as the Online Safety Bill, which is currently under scrutiny in the House of Commons.
This Bill aims to limit the accessibility of violent pornographic material as well as instilling an institutional duty of care upon companies to keep users safe.
For any prospective suitors seeking to secure my blessing when the daughters I am raising come of age, the first question will be whether they listened to and respected their mothers when growing up or not.
That will tell me more about the state of their hearts and minds and the level of respect they will show my daughters than how many protests they attended or how many placards they held.