Archives for posts with tag: Lennox Herald


The March of the Undecideds?  Scottish Women #indyref

Another Post from A Women’s Place

Recent polls suggest that a woman’s place is rather further from the ballot box than is good for them ahead of September’s independence referendum. By all accounts, they could be spending more of their precious time studying political form and making up their minds. While some claim that women voters hold the key to Scotland’s future if they turn out to vote in equal numbers to men, other surveys suggest women are among the many ‘undecideds’. Cue some old chestnuts: women are not natural risk takers, are more pessimistic, don’t like rocking the boat, are worried about the future, are unable to make up their minds….blah blah. More childcare ladies?   Are women being offered anything more than the same old same old?

Women are skilled commanders of perpetually rocky boats. The work they do is invisible until it stops, their unpaid contribution to the Scottish economy rarely included in high-end budget calculations and economic forecasts. Without all that free childcare, parenting, cleaning, cooking, house-keeping, homework, elderly care, health care and transport services…..phew….the whole economy would probably grind to a halt. And that’s before women get to their paid work, organised around THEIR childcare responsibilities (not Daddy’s). Watching the clock, afraid to miss the school bell they have probably done the food shopping in their lunch hour. Ask any woman. One glich in the system – a sick child unable to go to school that day or that 8.30 meeting your boss insists you attend – and the whole system crashes.

Scottish women may be aye working, but they are making up their minds.   With many turning out to local meetings, those without babysitters are on social media or blogging, chipping in their tuppenceworth when the weans are in their bed. Doing nothing is not an option – positions are being considered.

Scottish women still have a long way to go in the equality stakes, there are acres of unequal territory still to cover and the politicians need to know it according to Engender (   Women are listening for proposals which acknowledge the immense value of their contribution to keeping Scotland working, learning and healthy and to mothering the future workforce. Tangible proposals for a more equal future can transform indecision. Women need a hand – politically, economically and practically – More childcare isn’t the half of it.


365 Poster exhibition hosted by Dumbarton Refuge

Dumbarton District Women’s Aid Hosts celebrated International Women’s Day 2014 by hosting the Violence Against Women 365 International Poster Exhibition. Curated by Colm Dempsey , a Child Protection specialist from Dublin, this is 365’s third successful visit to West Dunbartonshire. The exhibition, currently in its tenth year of worldwide touring, was on display in a women’s refuge for the first time. Colm and Dumbarton’s Refuge workers were delighted that the display’s powerful and hard-hitting posters received a positive response from the local community. The invitation-only event proved popular with the general public, refuge residents, Councillors Hazel Sorrel, Jim Brown and Ian Murray and Jackie Baillie MSP.

In a week when disturbing findings from the Europe-wide Violence Against Women Everyday and Everywhere study were published, exhibitions like 365 are still needed to remind us of what goes on in our midst. Of the 42,000 women polled, 33% had experienced physical or sexual violence and 43% had experienced some form of psychological violence by a current or previous partner. West Dunbartonshire figures suggest that the extent of the problem here is similar to the rest of Europe.

International Women’s Day, however, is a good time to celebrate a quiet domestic abuse revolution which has been taking place in West Dunbartonshire over the last decade. By adopting a partnership approach, local agencies have gradually built an extensive range of specialist services and projects for women, children and young people including the Council’s CARA, CEDAR and Criminal Justice Women’s Safety Services, the Reduce Abuse Prevention Project, Dumbarton District and Clydebank Women’s Aid and ASSIST Advocacy Services. The partnership also includes specially trained local Police Scotland officers and together they have transformed the way domestic abuse is dealt with in West Dunbartonshire. This coordinated approach is designed to keep victims safe, help them deal with the impact of the abuse and to make sense of what can often appear a complicated court system. West Dunbartonshire can be proud that its specialist domestic abuse services are helping more and more local women to safely rebuild their lives.

The domestic abuse revolution is not yet complete however and the Violence Against Women 365 International Poster Exhibition will doubtless return to remind us of the private atrocities still going on in our midst. However, International Women’s Day 2014 was a good moment to reflect on the distance travelled and to celebrate the part played by local women whose dedication and hard work are making that revolution possible.

Dumbarton District Women’s Aid:
CONFIDENTIAL Domestic Abuse Helpline 01389 751036

For further information on all other local VAW services please call 01389 738680.

In an emergency call 999

National Domestic Abuse helpline: 08000271234

Visit ‘Violence Against Women 365 International Poster Exhibition’ on Facebook


The Lennox Herald 19 February 2014

What’s love got to do with it..?  We may well ask as red Valentine’s day hearts  festoon our shop fronts and dining a deux dominates the slightly desperate meal-deals on offer in local eateries.  Love did not have much to do with Beyonce’s duet with her rapper husband Jay-Z at the recent Grammy’s as they crooned about a scene of brutal domestic violence by Ike Turner against his then wife in the Tina Turner biopic, “I’m Ike turner, turn up/ baby know I don’t play/now eat cake Anna Mae”. It was not only the gender inequality implicit in Beyonce’s choice of a skimpy outfit worn alongside her fully-suited husband which drew media attention but the sight of married love disappearing down the drain dragging Beyonce’s newly sampled  feminist credentials with it.  Celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z really ought not to sexualise and glamorise intimate partner violence.  Are their creative imaginations so depleted that they are not longer inspired by the joys of love and affection? Have we reached the limits of ‘the moon in June’?  Are media assumptions that there is a voracious public appetite for interpersonal violence correct?   Is sex alone, heaven help us, no longer enough to sell things?  While the conflation of sex and violence and the mainstreaming of pornographic imagery in our popular culture proceeds apace, it does not, however, go entirely unchallenged.
The mass media campaign of One Billion Rising against violence against women and girls is one such challenge.  On St. Valentine’s Day, women and men, young and old all over the world will come together to celebrate women, their lives and their achievements. They rise, they sing and they dance with joy; love is definitely all around when they do.  The  Youtube videos are a treat –  a powerful antidote to the twerking brigade (
Valentine’s name is derived from the Latin word valens meaning strong, worthy, powerful. He was martyred, say some, for marrying Christian couples at a dangerous time for the new faith during Roman times.  He promoted love and affection in a climate of cruelty and oppression for those who shared his beliefs and way of living.    Just in time for Valentine’s Day 2014, love was definitely in the air around the Scottish Parliament on February  4 2014 when the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill was finally and  overwhelmingly voted into law.   The love that dared not speak its name publicly until 1980 in Scotland (yes –  1980!) can now also be celebrated in full legal marriage.   St. Valentine may have approved.  Love?  I hear it’s all you need…xx

Image by Lynne Connor Photography

2013 was a good year….. for exposing domestic abuse perpetrators… but 2014 has started out less well for those on their tail.  That darling of the right and consummate wealth creator the ‘great’ Charles Saatchi and, the now no longer  ‘good’,  Bill Walker, showed the Scottish public  that the occurrence of domestic abuse is no respecter of  class, position, celebrity  or privilege.  However, while Abbas Nikabady, an obsessively  jealous man was recently  jailed for life at the High Court in Glasgow for the murder of his wife of 22 years Fatemeh Bostani, George Park, an officer with Police Scotland, is still on their  payroll.  Park served  an 18-month sentence for battering his wife Frances and leaving her in fear of her life.  Police Scotland are in the horns of a dilemma.  Whilst  rightly being ‘relentless’ in their pursuit of domestic abuse offenders and showing an extraordinary sea change in the way the Force deals with the issue nationally, they are struggling to square that with their role as the employer of any such offender.  The SNP was quick to act in removing Bill Walker from his seat following his conviction, but the Scottish Government were limited in their powers to remove the  MSP.  Thankfully, Walker resigned from public office.  Park however shows no intention of doing any such thing.   Police Scotland were hesitant to disclose this tricky internal domestic issue.

Chief Superintendent John Thomson formerly Divisional Commander of this parish now heads up the Force’s  Licensing and Violence Reduction Division.  Charged with extending Strathclyde’s successful approach to domestic abuse offending nationwide, he recently confirmed that  ‘We want to transfer some of the fear that victims experience to perpetrators’. This new victim-centred approach appears to be working well.   As victims’ confidence grows, the number of reported incidents and prosecutions continue to rise. Before Christmas, the Chief Constable made it clear that ‘we will do everything within our power to target offenders and bring them to justice’ and ‘we want them to know they have nowhere to hide’.  Paying similar close attention to domestic abuse offenders among their workforce would send out a strong message that Police Scotland are willing to set their own sprawling ‘House’ in order (pun intended) and to show, beyond reasonable doubt,  whose side they are  on.

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