Gender based violence (GBV) is both a major public health issue and a human rights issue. Today, 10th December, on Human Rights Day, Public Health Scotland (PHS) reinforces its commitment to tackle both the issue itself, and the gender inequality that sits alongside.

Tackling GBV has an important part to play in our work to reduce poverty, improve health and address inequality. In Scotland, at least four out of every five incidents of domestic abuse recorded by Police Scotland have a female victim and a male accused. We know that women are more likely to live in poverty, and violence against women and girls (VAWG) sustains that poverty amongst both women and their children.

All forms of violence against women and girls are shown to have a damaging impact on mental wellbeing and can cause long-term trauma. It can seriously affect physical, emotional, and sexual health, as well as how people access and experience health services. It can create barriers to employment, education and other economic resources.

PHS is working with partners from local and national government, the public and third sectors to improve the prevention and identification of GBV in all its forms. Focusing on impact and solutions, we are committed to collective local and national action which addresses the fundamental causes, including persistent gender inequalities.

We have been supporting the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign [external website] where local leaders and networks focussed on actions that will bring about tangible change. The campaign culminates today with a national summit bringing together senior decision makers and leaders across Scotland to take collective action on VAWG and gender inequality.

Attending the National Summit, Claire Sweeney, Director of Place and Wellbeing at Public Health Scotland commented:

“Gender Based Violence in all of its forms, is intolerable and has no place in our vision of a Scotland where everybody thrives. To tackle GBV and break the cycle of violence, the focus needs to move to prevention and early intervention.

“Our big challenge in Scotland is to join forces and align priorities to strengthen our public health approach. Violence against women and girls can’t be addressed in isolation. Tackling this is everyone’s business and a collective responsibility, and the summit today has brought those key partners together to do just that.

“The most effective response is through whole system efforts - collective ownership across policy areas and ensuring there are strong partnership arrangements across national, regional and local boundaries.

“We know COVID-19 has exacerbated some of the public health challenges and inequalities experienced in our communities, and that increased violence and abuse is just one of the ways that women have been disproportionately impacted upon throughout the pandemic. In the midst of these difficult times, the sector’s resilience and many of the lessons learned can be used to help to shape better outcomes and the systemic change needed to achieve real and tangible improvements in the nation’s health.”

Last updated: 10 December 2021