A STRATEGY has been launched to protect women and girls across the Borders against domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The Scottish Borders Equally Safe strategy has used feedback from survivors, communities and partner agencies, plus statistics, to create a long-term vision to tackle gender-based violence across the area.

The five-year plan aims to ensure agencies work together to ensure that women and girls are equally safe at home, work and in the community.

The Violence Against Women Partnership – which includes representatives from SBC, NHS Borders, Police Scotland, Children1st, Border Women’s Aid, Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre, Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, Registered Social Landlords, Scottish Borders LGBT Equality and Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service, has been working for over a year to deliver an effective strategy.

The document is in line with Scottish Government’s priorities to eradicate gender-based violence and tackle gender inequality in Scottish society.
Priorities for the Borders include; domestic abuse, sexual violence and making sure staff in frontline services know what to do if they have concerns about clients.

Other issues the strategy aims to tackle are ensuring the long term future of existing services and responding to emerging needs such as stalking and harassment.

Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre manager, Susie Stein said: “Violence against women and girls is an issue in the Scottish Borders and the Equally Safe strategy takes the broad view that if you tackle gender inequality you will tackle the violence and harm people experience because of their gender.

“Equally Safe asks Scottish Borders communities to embrace equality, challenge all forms of violence against women and girls, to allow women and girls to thrive and be treated as equal citizens.

“It also aims to provide support for women and girls at an earlier stage, and that those who perpetrate violence and abuse are challenged and offered the opportunity to change.”

Councillor Mark Rowley, chairman of the Community Planning Partnership Strategic Board, which endorsed the strategy, said: “Equally Safe is an ambitious strategy involving many stakeholders.

“This consultation has involved partner organisations, communities and survivors, as everyone needs to play a part in making people feel safe.”