Fourteen rape crisis support centres are to benefit from £1.5 million to support their work over the next three years and help victims of sexual violence, it has been announced.
The centres, including those in Shetland, the Scottish Borders, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Highland, will receive grants ranging from £10,000 to £174,000.
The overall funding was recently announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The cash was welcomed by campaigners, who say many support centres have waiting lists.
Christina McKelvie, the Scottish Government’s Equalities Minister, said: “We are committed to preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls. And a huge part of delivering on that commitment is ensuring that victims of rape or sexual assault are able to come forward and access the right support when they need it.
“[The] funding will bolster the resources available to each centre to ensure that more people can receive support, more quickly, as well as helping these services plan for the future.”
Rape crisis centres offer free and confidential emotional and practical support to victims of sexual violence.
Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said the funding would make a big difference .
“Many of our centres currently have significant waiting lists,” she said.
“We know that having plucked up the courage to contact a rape crisis service, being told there is a waiting list can be very distressing.
“Rape is a crime which can have a devastating impact, and support should be available when someone needs it.
“This funding won’t solve all of the problems caused by the underfunding of rape crisis centres across Scotland but it will make a considerable difference.”
Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative equalities spokesperson, said: “This is a very welcome move that should make a real difference.
“There has been uncertainty around funding in several areas of the country. Hopefully this means that more victims will be able to access the support they need. These cases can take years to go through the courts.
“However, there are still issues that need to be addressed around the immediate help available for those who have been attacked.”
Liberal Democrat justce spokesman Liam McArthur said: “Now the Scottish Government need to ensure that they are working closely with the courts and prosecution services to ensure that people have confidence in the systems that are in place.
“Only then will they be able to tackle the stubbornly low rates of prosecution and conviction in this type of case.”