In this blog post, our Equalities Ambassador Luke Padfield writes about a new research project looking at the possible incorporation of the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights into domestic law.
The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has recently announced that they are undertaking a new piece of research on the Incorporation of International Human Rights Standards. The call comes at a particularly crucial time as the details of the effects of Brexit on rights in Edinburgh start to become clearer.
One concern, among many, is that Article 35 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights (CFR), the Right to Health Care, will no longer be applicable post-brexit. Article 35 of the CFR states that, “Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all the Union’s policies and activities.”
While it is true that Brexit will not affect our continued enjoyment of rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), incorporated with the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the right to health is not expressly articulated in either of these documents.[i]
The SHRC research proposal focuses on the possibility of incorporating the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ICESR) into Scots law. Article 12 of the ICESR articulates the right to health and calls upon state parties to recognise, “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”. The SHRC has scheduled a workshop in March 2018 to discuss the issue further.
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Violence Against Women: The Ultimate In Discrimination
A blog post by Hannah Bourne, Equalities Ambassador
On 25 November 2017, we here at EaRN will be recognising the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, as designated by the UN General Assembly.
Continuing from my previous post I will be focusing on gender equality – and as violence is the most extreme form of discrimination – as in some cases this discrimination can kill the victim, gender-based violence in Scotland as well as across the world is a hugely important issue, and one that despite taboo is important to discuss. Gender-based violence can encompass a huge range of abuse, including forced marriage, FGM, and non-consensual sharing of intimate media, but to be more relevant to the discussion of Edinburgh and Scotland, I will focus on domestic violence – as perhaps the most prevalent and harmful experience of violence the Scottish population can face. Evidently domestic violence affects men too and so this is not a female-orientated piece, but as I will discuss the effects on the two genders are often quite divergent as being female is a key risk factor in experiencing abuse.
For many, domestic violence alludes to physical fights between unhappy and argumentative couples, and too often is dismissed as a problem easily escaped – leaving your partner is not an option for a lot of people particularly when children, family or friends are involved and the violence can continue once the relationship is over – and this makes up almost half of cases in Scotland.
Police Scotland define domestic abuse as:
‘Any form of physical, sexual or mental and emotional abuse [that] might amount to criminal conduct and which takes place within the context of a relationship. The relationship will be between partners (married, cohabiting, civil partnership or otherwise) or ex-partners. The abuse can be committed in the home or elsewhere.’
This definition clearly goes beyond the typical images society holds.
Including mental and emotional abuse allows for a much wider range of mistreatment to be classified as domestic abuse – benefiting victims in pursuit of legal action, and more vitally – greater recognition of these actions as abuse in society – promoting discussion about their effects and hopefully reducing the incidence of cases. Attacks such as cyber-crime or non-consensual sharing of intimate media (NCSIM) – which even a decade ago were not perceived in the general public to be crimes- have become well noted examples of a clear shift in attitudes by formal institutions which has begun to trickle down in to the population.
So what does domestic abuse look like for Scotland? In the year 2016-17 58,810 incidents of domestic abuse where reported, but as with most crimes this is under-representative of the actual figures as there are many reasons victims may not report their abuse. In reality its estimated one in four women in Scotland will experience violence in their lifetime, and the incidents involving police and so referenced here, only make up 21% of incidents. Edinburgh’s statistics closely resemble the average Scottish statistics, whilst the worst areas were West Dunbartonshire and Dundee City.
The statistics also show an interesting story about the gender balance of reported crimes that is noticeably changing (see chart below). 79% of incidents are female victims reporting male abusers, and although this is a majority, has slightly reduced over recent years, whilst the figure of 18% for male victims reporting female abusers shows an increase. This would suggest not necessarily that the type of incidents are changing, but that less stigma around domestic violence means more men are reporting their abusers – a substantial shift in attitude in the right direction in how to tackle gender equality.
Chart 5: Gender of victim and accused, where known, 2016-17
If this high prevalence of abuse wasn’t already distressing, the dominance of female victims has much wider implications for gender inequality as a whole. Regardless of the reasoning behind this dominance – whether it be that women are seen as easier to be violent towards or assert dominance over, or whether social norms and their household role have an effect, this discrimination further perpetuates gender inequality, and so creates a cyclical effect – as violence occurs, the gender gap is widened, so further violence against women occurs, and the problem grows.
This is even more concerning when we consider the intersectionality of gender inequality with other inequalities women in Scotland face. Whether these be because of their age, a disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or sexual orientation, discrimination caused by violence against women can be accentuated by these channels. For example women may live within racial or religious cultures that are more likely to tolerate domestic violence, or their disability or pregnancy may give men more believed reason to be violent.
The interest and research in violence against women is an increasingly expanding and interesting field, particularly in the fields of economics and sociology, and so with the backing of academic research these issues are being brought to the attention of policy discussion today, but as I hope to have shown – there is still huge leaps to be made for gender-based violence even in Scotland, but the increased discussion and awareness is elevating this priority in to the eyes of those who can help make real change.
So why not get involved in the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, and help increase public awareness and help mobilise people everywhere to bring about change! These days run from 25 November to Human Rights Day – 10 December, and this year’s theme focuses on those most marginalised across the globe.
For more information on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women or the 16 Days of Activism, see: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/
For support and advice surrounding domestic violence, see:
And for any further information feel free to contact me, Hannah Bourne, at email@example.com
EaRN Equalities Ambassador
Statues are often erected to commemorate and celebrate public figures who have made an important impact or influence on the local society in which the statue is often placed, and many have huge importance or landmark status – such as the Statue of Liberty in New York, Nelson’s Column in London, and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
Edinburgh is no different to many other cities – full of statues and monuments dedicated to prestigious figures in Edinburgh’s history. But it is far too clear to see how little diversity appears between these stone figures. In the entirety of Edinburgh only two statues are of named women – Helen Crummy who was a local fundraiser and social activist in Craigmillar, and Queen Victoria. In fact the number of statues of animals in Edinburgh beats the number of female statues – including Greyfriar’s Bobby, Bum – a vagabond dog who dies in 1898 in Edinburgh’s twin city San Diego, and Wotjek – a beer-drinking and smoking Polish bear who died in Edinburgh Zoo after being involved in the Second World War.
And when we widen our vision to the whole of Scotland, unfortunately this situation doesn’t seem to improve – throughout the country only 20 statues of women exist. Five of these are of Queen Victoria, one of which is Jean Armour – the wife of Robert Burns, another is Linda McCartney whose statue was funded by her famous husband Paul, and many that are symbolic rather than life-like.
What do these figures suggest for how women in Scotland are represented and appreciated by history? The only famous achievements of women we see are those born or married in to importance, and very rarely women who have made names for themselves. This wouldn’t be quite so astonishing were Scotland lacking the female candidates for these statues – nowhere in Scotland can you find a statue of JK Rowling or Katherine Grainger, and only one exists of Mary Queen of Scots- to name a few of the hugely famous and successful female residents of Scotland. Moreover it seems an alcoholic bear and persistent lost dog rank higher in Edinburgh city’s historical appreciations.
Yes – these examples could be argued to be too contemporary to already be established in stone, and the Victorian era being when statue creation was most prevalent explains the celebration of so many Victorian figures – particularly from the infamous Scottish Enlightenment. But Scottish history features many famous women too – the medical pioneer and suffragette Elsie Inglis, the founder of the first birth control centre in Britain Maggie Stopes, and Muriel Spark – one of Britain’s greatest 20th century writers, so how can it be said that these men were the only ones suitable for statue-hood?
This inaccurate domination of Scottish history provides a warped image for the new generation – as nowhere in Edinburgh can young girls look up and see a true role model, and where they do find a woman – the faces preserve the all too common aim for all girls to “find a husband” – and ideally a successful one. Soon enough these incredible female Scottish role models who are not immortalised in stone will soon leave the mind of history forever.
Without the necessary role models- we continue to disadvantage the ambitions of young girls and women who unlike men cannot search the streets in hope of aspiration. A huge range of factors already affect the careers and working lives of young women – lower wages, lower participation rates, societally determined household duties, occupational segregation, and it seems to top all of this discrimination off, Edinburgh’s streets lack incentives for women to aim higher and attempt to break these boundaries.
This idea that statues can have an effect on women’s aspirations for many seems bizarre – with the vast access to the internet and other sources of ambition why should these statues matter – but we cannot ignore these historic wrongs and how they remain unrectified. In previous years many campaigns have been attempted to get statues of Scottish female figures including Mary Barbour- the crusader who led the Glasgow rent strikes of 1915, and the Mapping Memorials to Women in Scotland project, but with little success.
This blog post discusses a historical aspect of equality for women in Edinburgh, and although it is not at the forefront of gender issues in Edinburgh today, I hoped this would provide an intriguing and thought-provoking introductory piece of writing that I hope to develop on in further blog posts about gender in Edinburgh.
EaRN Equalities Ambassador
The City of Edinburgh Council is planning its budgets for 2018/19 and is looking for feedback from Edinburgh residents.
The changes that we face, just like other cities, continue:
- Our population is changing and growing
- Demand for our services, such as for schools and health and social care, is increasing all the time
- Council income has not kept up with rising demand
In 2017/18 we invested over £900m on services for residents, businesses and visitors. We focused on the things you have told us are important like education, care for older people, culture and services for vulnerable children and adults.
We have saved around £240m since 2012/13 and continue to work more efficiently and prioritise our services. Even with this, we estimate that we need to save at least £21m by 2019, over £100m by 2021 and £150m by 2023.
Tell us what you think
Please visit our web pages at www.edinburgh.gob.uk/playyourpart to give us your views on our budget proposals for 2018/19. You can also register to come along to Question Time on Monday 27 November, where you can put a question to our panel of senior councillors.