Men’s attitudes a new weapon in fight against rape

One of the posters used in the new We Can Stop It campaign. Picture: Contributed
One of the posters used in the new We Can Stop It campaign. Picture: Contributed
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A NEW campaign against rape is launched today urging men to act as role models and encourage better attitudes towards women.

The We Can Stop It campaign, using posters, adverts and s ocial media, will warn that sex without consent is always rape.

It is focused on men, straight and gay, and not just those who may commit the crimes, but also people who fail to challenge harmful attitudes.

Since the launch of Police Scotland almost a year ago, there has been a major focus on tackling rape and domestic abuse, with specialist teams and officers.

There has also been a rise in reports, although it is not clear whether this is because there have been more crimes or because victims have more confidence in coming forward.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, head of major crime and public protection, said: “Rape is a devastating crime which has a far-reaching impact on victims and families. Changes in the law meant that the definition of rape widened – the clear message being that sex without consent is rape.

“This campaign builds on awareness-raising work previously which challenges men to think about their actions – and the consequences. I hope this campaign encourages men not only to think about their own responsibilities but also challenge the behaviour of others.

“We deal with reports of rape every day. There are a wide range of circumstances around each case – but the common factor is that where there is no consent, it is rape. I hope this campaign encourages men to think about their behaviour and through that help reduce offending which will mean fewer victims of this crime.”

Police say almost 75 per cent of reported rapes are detected. A third take place in a domestic setting, with 90 per cent committed by someone known to the victim, and one in six take place while the victim is asleep.

Sandie Barton, national coordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “The law is clear: sex without consent is rape, and we need to make sure the Scottish public understand that. We Can Stop It speaks directly to men and offers a very positive message – that rape is preventable, and men can play a positive role in making this happen.”

Mhairi McGowan, head of service at Assist, a domestic abuse advocacy service, added: “We talk to people every day who have been raped by a partner or ex-partner, sometimes recently, sometimes a long time ago, so we are very pleased to support this campaign.

“We must work together as a society to ensure the message that rape is unacceptable is heard loud and clear by everyone and We Can Stop it will play a huge part. I’m sure most men don’t – we need to make sure we change that to all men.”

Lily Greenan, manager of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “We think it is particularly important that the campaign involves men challenging other men in a positive way to make sure that their partner consents to sexual activity and commend Police Scotland for taking this approach.”

Callum Hendry from the White Ribbon Scotland Campaign, which engages men in taking action to prevent violence against women, said: “The campaign materials help us in our work to educate men on exactly what constitutes consent, and to encourage men to play a key role as allies in challenging the attitudes which contribute to the continuing high levels of rape in Scotland.”