SHETLAND MSP Beatrice Wishart says a “change to the ingrained, centuries-old, patriarchal views of women and girls in our society” must take place if gender-based violence is to be tackled.
She made the plea in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday in a debate around the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign.
Wishart said Shetland is “blighted by domestic abuse and violence against women and girls as much as towns and cities across the country are”.
She said awareness raising is one part of the solution, adding that “education is key, and that should not necessarily be restricted to young people’s education”.
Wishart highlighted the work of Dr Mary Hepburn, who developed specialist services for disadvantaged women in Glasgow, after she led a discussion in the Lerwick on Monday to launch a programme of events in Shetland organised by the Shetland Domestic Abuse Partnership.
The MSP, who attended the event, said: “The panel discussion left the audience with a plea for societal change – and I heard that plea.
“Drink driving was used as an example; that used to be acceptable, but it no longer is. That shift in what society previously viewed as acceptable has taken decades to work through. Can we do the same when it comes to violence against women and girls? We must.
“Scotland’s new domestic abuse law rightly shone a light on what was previously unseen violence. The new legislation has been held up as ‘the world’s gold standard’ by international expert Professor Evan Stark and already we are seeing the benefits of it. People are much more aware of what coercive control is and cases are going through the court system.
“What now needs to happen is a change to the ingrained, centuries-old, patriarchal views of women and girls in our society, and the unconscious bias that starts when we are born. It cannot happen overnight.
“The parliament has an important role to play, and members have a collective responsibility to lead and change, however that may be. We need to ensure there are never any unintended, adverse consequences for women and girls. No one should be subjected to violence.”
Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign running from 25 November until 10 December.
The dates centre around International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Human Rights Day to highlight the link between violence and human rights.