Glasgow honoured to become a White Ribbon City

City Chambers, George Square.
City Chambers, George Square.

Glasgow is to be named a White Ribbon City in recognition of the work it does to tackle violence against women.

White Ribbon Scotland will present the city with the award at a ceremony in Glasgow City Chambers today (October 1) when Glasgow’s Violence Against Women Partnership (GVAWP) will also unveil the results of Scotland’s biggest ever attitudinal survey on the subject.

Glasgow’s work on violence against women includes the End Prostitution Now campaign, Sixteen Days of Action, the Routes Out of Prostitution project, the Trafficking Alliance Raising Awareness (TARA) project and ASSIST, the support project linked to Glasgow’s domestic abuse court.

Councillor Jim Coleman has chaired the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership (GVAWP) since it was established in 2000. He accepted the award on behalf of the city which adopted the White Ribbon symbol as a sign of its commitment to tackling violence against women in 2013.

Cllr Coleman said: “I’m proud to say that Glasgow has long taken a zero tolerance stance on violence against women. Today’s award is recognition of the outstanding work being done to support victims and eradicate the attitude that violence against women is ever acceptable. It will further enhance the city’s strong national and international reputation for the broad range of work it does in this field.

“I’d like to thank White Ribbon Scotland for this prestigious award which validates the efforts of the dedicated organisations and individuals working so hard to tackle this issue. I’m sure it will spur them on to even greater achievements.

“Today’s presentation coincides with the roll out of Clare’s Law across Scotland and stage three of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill. We very much welcome both these major steps forward and the protection they afford women but we are disappointed that the Human Trafficking bill seeks to protect those who have been trafficked and not all exploited in prostitution. The root cause of human trafficking is the sex industry’s demand for women and girls. This demand is created by men.

“To eradicate human trafficking we need to eradicate prostitution and to do this we need to tackle the demand by men. GVAWP will continue to campaign for a challenging demand approach on prostitution with legislation to decriminalise those selling sex and criminalise those who buy it. We believe it is the only way to end prostitution.”

GVAWP recently conducted Scotland’s biggest attitudinal survey on the subject of violence against women. The online questionnaire was completed by 1237 people who considered questions around issues such as rape, domestic abuse, pornography, lap and pole dancing and gender inequality.

Cllr Coleman said: “The results of the attitudinal survey highlight the ongoing need to continue to change attitudes and challenge misconceptions. For example, one in five of respondents thought prostitution was a choice women make. This we know is a myth and worryingly one in five also thought that pornography was not harmful, when in fact it contributes to violence against women.”

The White Ribbon campaign is an internationally recognised movement which aims to raise awareness of all forms of violence against women while challenging negative attitudes and behaviour. Engaging men on the agenda is a key component on the campaign.

Callum Henry, Campaign Co-ordinator, White Ribbon Scotland, praised Glasgow’s multi-faceted approach to tackling the issue including training staff within the city council, Community Safety Glasgow and the wider council family to raise awareness of the problem.

Mr Henry said: “Glasgow is exceptionally pro-active in addressing the issue of violence against women and challenging unacceptable behaviour and attitudes. For instance, its trained speakers and organisational champions have brought many great ideas to the table and we look forward to supporting them. Glasgow’s record on tackling demand for commercial sexual exploitation is another area where the White Ribbon Campaign can play a key role by encouraging men to challenge improper attitudes and behaviour amongst their peers.”