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by Louise Wilson
06 June 2023
Violence against women commissioner should be appointed, review concludes

© Laura Dodsworth

Violence against women commissioner should be appointed, review concludes

A violence against women and girls commissioner should be appointed by the Scottish Government to ensure it is meeting international human rights obligations, an independent review has concluded.

It has also called for a legal right to VAWG services to be created, with a duty placed on service providers for minimum core services.

Putting such services on a statutory footing would also see a move away from competitive funding rounds which disadvantage smaller organisations.

The review suggests the Scottish Government should replace that model of funding with one that is ring-fenced and devolved to local authorities.

The independent strategic review of funding and commissioning of VAWG services was announced by the government in November 2021.

It has asked the government to respond, with a timeline for implementation, to the report by the end of this year.

Chair Lesley Irving said: “I am confident that our recommendations, which are grounded in the evidence we have gathered over the course of the review, will allow us to take a very significant step forward in how we respond to VAWG in Scotland. It’s time to make that commitment.”

Other recommendations include providing services for a range of women, with the report stating some women – such as those from ethnic minority backgrounds or those with learning disabilities – do not feel they can access existing services.

It also calls for services to support the children and young people impacted by VAWG, particularly domestic violence.

And on single-sex spaces, it said it was important to ensure such provision continues so that women do not self-exclude because of the potential inclusion of trans women “either as staff or as service users”.

But it also said single-sex provision should be part of a range of services to ensure there are services for trans women.

“This can, as it is currently, be provided in some services alongside a different and equivalent service offer for trans women i.e. without access to shared refuge or groupwork, but with the possibility of access to stand-alone refuge, that does not result in their disadvantage or further discrimination, and ensures no regression on secured rights and recognition of trans people,” it said.

Speaking at the launch event of the report, victims and community safety minister Siobhian Brown said the recommendations were “challenging” and would take time to implement.

But she committed to considering the report, including how to ensure VAWG services were put on a “stable footing” for funding.

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