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.
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.