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Tackling violence against women and girls during COVID-19
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Councils will get more support to deal with increased levels of domestic abuse and gender-based violence during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

New guidance developed in partnership with COSLA, Scottish Government and Public Health Scotland will help women and children continue to get the best support that they deserve.

The guidance signposts to local resources, and assists decision-makers in identifying women and children at risk as well as the short, medium and long term steps they can take to support their recovery and wellbeing.

The guidance is part of a range of measures introduced to tackle higher levels of abuse and violence, including a £1.5 million funding package for the women’s aid and rape crisis network. It will help to maximise the effective protection and provision of support for those experiencing gender-based violence, both during this immediate crisis period and in the longer term.

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said:

“I am both saddened and shocked that domestic abuse has increased during this lock down period. It is unacceptable that people are at risk from those they live with. While these times are difficult for all of us, there are unfortunately those who are more badly affected. Some women and children may very isolated now, and need our help more than ever.

“This guidance is underpinned by our existing Equally Safe strategy and will support the strong leadership already being demonstrated by local authorities and their key  community planning partners across Scotland.

“We want to continue to work with our partners and to share intelligence, shape the ongoing crisis response and plan for the long term.

“Together, the Scottish Government and COSLA are committed to tackling violence against women and girls wherever it exists and through whatever form it manifests. Our work in this area remains at the heart of the our joint response to Covid-19.”

Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said:

“We know that this pandemic has heightened the risks to women and children living with domestic abuse and other forms of gender based violence globally. This supplementary guidance is informed by the expertise of a broad range of committed services and partner organisations in Local Authority areas across Scotland.

“Covid-19 does not offer abusers an excuse for their choices and their behaviours. Working closely with colleagues across health services and with third sector specialist services, we will continue to robustly seek to provide support  to all victims of gender-based violence and to hold perpetrators of violence and abuse firmly to account.”