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  • Author or Editor: Michele Burman x
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From 2007 until 2011, the Gender Equality Duty (GED) required public bodies in Britain to take gender equality into consideration in all policies and services. This article traces its implementation in Scotland, following devolution. It focuses on the GED’s perceived potential as a policy tool for driving change in the way public bodies, particularly those responsible for the delivery of criminal justice, respond to gender-based violence. We highlight the distinctive approach taken to genderbased violence in Scotland, and argue that despite some evidence of mainstreaming, the real potential for change afforded by the GED was never fully realised.

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This chapter outlines the Scottish legislative and policy response to rape, discusses some of the problems facing survivors of sexual violence in their search for justice, considers the possible impact of some of the developments in recent years, and suggests some possible future directions. The Scottish government is acknowledged as being at the international forefront of work to tackle violence against women. Violence against women is seen by the Scottish government as having its roots in the inequality between men and women in society.

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Reports of an intensification of domestic abuse under COVID-19 restrictions has been described by the UN as a ‘shadow pandemic’. Drawing upon interviews with domestic abuse survivors (n=11), plus interviews (n=18) and surveys (n=22) with support service providers in Scotland, this article develops a nuanced understanding of how the conditions created by the pandemic interacted with existing experiences of domestic abuse, highlighting the relatively overlooked experiences of survivors who have separated from their abusers. The findings reveal how pandemic conditions triggered, mirrored and amplified experiences and impacts of domestic abuse through the complex interplay between isolation, anxiety, lone-parenting, financial concerns and protective requirements such as mask wearing. Participants described an increase in economic abuse, abuse online and the manipulation of child contact arrangements as the restrictions imposed by the pandemic facilitated perpetrator behaviours. However, survivors’ resilience, coping mechanisms, and in some cases enhanced feelings of safety, were also notable. These findings generate insights into the evolving but persistent nature and dynamics of domestic abuse though the pandemic, including how domestic abuse interacts with, creates, and is compounded by gendered inequalities irrespective of whether survivors have separated from their abuser.

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Whilst the Corston report was focused upon the imprisonment of vulnerable women in England and Wales, the experiences of imprisoned women in Scotland have similarly been a cause for concern for policy makers, practitioners and academics over a period of more than 15 years, prompted initially by a series of suicides in the mid-1990s in Scotland’s only dedicated female prison. Despite the publication of a number of successive reports highlighting the need to limit the use of female imprisonment and make increased use of alternative, gender-appropriate community based services, the rate of female imprisonment has continued to rise, with more women being sent to prison for increasing periods of time. This chapter will provide an historical analysis of developments in policy, practice and research in relation to criminalized women in Scotland, starting with the publication of ‘A Safer way’ in 1998 and concluding with a reflection on the likely impact of the Commission on Women Offenders that was established by the Scottish Government and reported in 2012.

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