A CAMPAIGNER seeking the inclusion of women in the main aspects of Lerwick’s Up Helly Aa says he will now raise his concern with the Shetland community safety and resilience board.
Peter Hamilton said he is changing tactics and will no longer make complaints about the local authority’s support for the town’s fire festivals to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
Hamilton previously said he would lodge complaints – including to the local government ombudsman by 4 March – if talks on the inclusion of greater involvement for woman had not started.
Shetland Islands Council hosts a civic reception and lets the Up Helly Aa committee use the George V playpark in Lerwick for the burning of the galley, but it has always insisted that by doing so it was not in breach of any equality duties and had no role in influencing a change in the nature of the community festival.
Hamilton said that following a “helpful and productive” discussion with the chairman of the local health board, Gary Robinson, he will now request the safety board investigate Shetland’s very high occurrence of sexual violence incidents.
Hamilton has always maintained that there is a link between the statistics and the festival but no-one has ever produced any conclusive proof, and the high number of reported incidents could well have a variety of different reasons.
Explaining his decision to not to take his complaints forward to various organisations on the mainland, Hamilton said: “Anyone who looks at this will see Shetland Islands Council, and other local bodies, are in breach of the Public Sector Equalities Duty under the 2010 Equalities Act.
“As time went on I have been increasingly struck by the levels of xenophobic and misogynistic abuse those who have wanted change have witnessed and been subjected to on social media and elsewhere.
“By taking this and the Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Education’s Unlimited Potential report to the community safety resilience board, I now trust these concerns will also be considered properly by Shetland police and the director of public health.
“It may be that ultimately these matters need to be addressed at community planning level within the Shetland Partnership. That in turn could trigger further consideration of what needs to change in Shetland’s schools.
“It is deeply troubling to see how harmful discrimination has been normalised in the name of tradition, with future generations being indoctrinated, and the accompanying vile and divisive nonsense.”
He added: “The decision to change my approach has not been an easy, as there is a degree of urgency involved where the need to prevent harm is clear.
“And of-course women and girls should have the freedom to join in on their community festival on the same basis as men and boys.
“Equally anyone should feel free to raise appeals south when they think things are not being dealt with properly in Shetland.”
Due to the council elections in early May the next meeting of the Shetland Community Safety and Resilience Board, which brings together the council, the isles’ emergency services as well as NHS Shetland, will be held on 29 June.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 540 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News