Men must play their part in stopping violence against women – Davy Thompson

Sign the White Ribbon pledge to make a difference, says Davy Thompson

Davy Thompson, Campaign Director, White Ribbon Scotland

The increase in domestic violence during the lockdown is a matter of grave concern. The Betting and Gaming Council has worked with White Ribbon Scotland – a charity which seeks to raise awareness about gender-based violence – for a number of years and our betting shop employees have been hugely supportive of the charity. With that in mind, the BGC has decided to donate its latest Friends of the Scotsman article to help promote the important work of White Ribbon Scotland.

White Ribbon Scotland, like all organisations which run campaigns, relies on associations with others to circulate our message. We are grateful to our friends at the Betting and Gaming Council for the opportunity to present this piece.

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White Ribbon Scotland (WRS) is an autonomous part of a worldwide effort to eliminate male violence against women and girls (VAWG), which started in Canada in 1991 following a sexist-motivated mass murder of female students.

In Scotland we formed as a charity in 2010 with a small sum of money from the Scottish Government, which has slowly built up over the years. As such we are one of the few White Ribbon organisations, amongst the dozens in existence worldwide, which is supported by our government.

You will have heard about the increase in domestic abuse which is currently happening across the world, including here in Scotland. We have the utmost respect for members of many women’s groups who continue to provide support to survivors of abuse and violence despite the risk to themselves. Although it will be impacting on some men, this has a hugely disproportionate affect on women. It is not increasing because of current pressure turning men into abusers. It is happening because abusers have little to stop them taking advantage of the current limits on women’s ability to have some respite from the abuse. It is more important than ever that men play their part in ending this scourge on our society; not just domestic abuse, but all forms of VAWG.

We ask all men to acknowledge that VAWG is a massive part of our society, one which takes up more than 20 per cent of all police time and is a negative for all of us, not just the women it affects directly.

White Ribbon Scotland believes men can do something about VAWG. It is not inevitable. We need the law and we need relatively recent legislation to address issues such as stalking and coercive control, however laws alone do not eliminate crime. To do that we need to change the attitudes of society. We need to reach a tipping point where most people are calling for that change, speaking up and doing what they can to influence it. We need the men who do not perpetrate VAWG, the majority, to play their part in ending the abuse perpetrated by those who do. This is not a call for a collective feeling of guilt or shame but rather a responsibility to take up the opportunity to create a better world.

This is not a women’s problem, it is a problem for all of us!

We need to work towards gender equality; a society in which everyone has the freedom to be who they are, not some unattainable stereotypical version of themselves, and where everyone has the same opportunity to achieve their aims, live in safety and play a part in decision-making at all levels. By doing so we take away the bias which leaves many men thinking they need to be in control and many of those thinking they have the right to take control at any cost.

How can men make a difference?

– Accept that men helping to bring about change will make a difference.

– Sign the White Ribbon Scotland pledge stating, ‘I will never commit, condone or remain silent about violent against women in all its forms.’

– Live up to the pledge. Don’t commit it. Don’t get involved in sexism, misogyny, victim blaming, objectification, etc. Speak up, let people around you know you oppose VAWG.

– Wear a white ribbon.

– Contact us at [email protected] to discuss volunteering or an organisation/area you are part of starting a project to achieve a White Ribbon Status Award.

– Donate to local women’s groups offering services to those surviving violence or abuse.

– Donate to White Ribbon Scotland.

– Be a role model.

Davy Thompson, Campaign Director, White Ribbon Scotland