This evening, I got to take part in something really special and important. I was asked to participate in the White Ribbon March in Stirling. The White Ribbon Campaign is a movement hoping to bring an end to our society's still too silent acceptance of the scourge of violence against women. It is aimed at men and asks them to make a public commitment to never commit, condone or be silent against violence against women.
I am really proud to say that our local Council has committed to making Stirling Scotland's first White Ribbon city. And refreshingly there was relatively good attendance at tonight's March, with local men, women and children braving the not particularly hospitable weather to walk from Stirling Castle to the Council Headquarters to show their solidarity with the cause. Central Scotland Police were also well represented with the Assistant Chief Constable reminding us that while domestic violence is a crime of violence, more insidiously it is really a crime of control, isolation and domination. Speaking out against domestic violence hopefully helps all who suffer find the strength to break out and find their own personal freedoms from oppression.
And in case any of you are wondering about how big a problem this really is, ponder the following facts:
- 45% of women have experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- At least 32% of children, mostly girls, experience some form of child sexual abuse
- At least 80,000 women suffer rape every year.
- On average, two women a week in England and Wales are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. This constitutes nearly 40% of all female homicide victims.
Do not condone, ignore or turn a blind eye to violence against women. You may just save a life. And it can be happening closer than you think - sadly.