Scotland's Strategy to Tackle Violence against Women and Girls

For many decades Scotland has been at the forefront of work to tackle violence against women.  Protecting women and children from all forms of violence, providing support and services for those who have or are experiencing violence, and preventing violence from occurring in the first place are national priorities.

The Scottish Government and COSLA, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities are currently in the process of developing a national strategy aimed at tackling all forms of violence against women which will be published in Summer 2014.  Instead of a formal public consultation process, we are undertaking a period of focussed and targeted consultation and engagement with key stakeholders and interested parties to help inform the development of the strategy.

Our approach to engagement on Scotland's strategy to tackle violence against women and girls

In order to ensure that engagement on the strategy is as effective and meaningful as possible we are:

  • Inviting and providing support for stakeholders who deliver frontline services to host discussion groups about the strategy with women who use their services as a result of having experienced violence;
  • Meeting with key stakeholders including Police Scotland, Education Scotland, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and third sector organisations to discuss their commitments to tackling violence against women and girls which will be included within the strategy;
  • Circulating an outline structure of the strategy and discussion questions to all partners for wider dissemination to their own networks.  The outline structure and discussion questions are also publicly available and provide a means and opportunity for all those not directly involved in the discussion groups or meetings, to contribute their views on the strategy.

Why are we taking this approach?

We have taken the decision to move away from a formal consultation process because:

  • We believe that our approach will allow us to reach more women who have experienced abuse and who have come into contact with services and agencies as a result of their experience;
  • It reflects our intention that the strategy is developed through meaningful engagement and collaboration with frontline agencies and services.

So we will not be publishing a draft of the strategy for public consultation.  However the outline structure of the strategy, list of frequently asked questions and discussion questions have been made publicly available.  They provide a means and an opportunity for anyone not directly involved in the discussion groups or meetings to contribute their views on the strategy.

Responses to the outline structure of the strategy and discussion questions are being sought until Friday 28 February and should be sent to either:


Nicole Ronald

Scottish Government

Business Support Unit

Equality, Human Rights and Third Sector Division


Victoria Quay

Violence against Women

Violence against women is a term used by the Scottish Government to define a range of actions which harm or cause suffering and indignity to women and children. They include but are not limited to:

  • Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, within the general community or in institutions, including: domestic abuse, rape, incest and child sexual abuse;
  • Sexual harrassment and intimidation at work and in the public sphere; commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography and trafficking;
  • Dowry related violence;
  • Forced and child marriages;
  • Honour crimes

What does gender have to do with it?

These actions are mainly carried out by men against women and children. The different forms of violence have their roots in gender inequality and in the different power relations between men and women in society. They are therefore understood as gender-based violence and are interlinked.

This does not mean that women do not use violence or carry out the actions described above. Nor does it mean that men are not the victims of these actions. It merely recognises that statistically men are commonly the perpetrators and women and children the victims.

More than physical violence

In the context of violence against women, 'violence' has a broader meaning than the normal dictionary definition of violence, which generally requires some form of exertion of physical force. The range of behaviours described above can be physical, but they also include emotional, psycholgical and sexual abuse, and behaviour which is coercive and controlling in nature.