A leading women’s rights campaigner is demanding more legal support for victims of gender-based violence in the north-east.
Janine Ewen, who was brought up in Aberdeenshire, has done work on a local, national and international level to support women and children and has recently become co-leader on gender affairs for the Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association.
Janine explains she has learned a lot from feminist activists and would like to see an organisation similar to the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre in Glasgow formed in the city.
She has also called for more legal expertise, advocacy and campaigning in the region to help deal with the challenges women and children face.
Currently Grampian’s Women Aid are running a campaign to improve legal services for women and young people suffering domestic abuse.
However, Miss Ewen would like that to be expanded to cover a wider caveat of gender-based problems.
These include the impact of criminalisation in the sex industry, immigration bureaucracy that can become a huge barrier for migrant survivors of abuse and vulnerable women and youth being targeted through threats and physical violence from organised crime involved in the illicit drug trade.
She said: “Domestic abuse is devastatingly prevalent and part of a wider problem of gender-based violence.
“It makes sense that when asking for legal support in the region on domestic abuse that it covers more issues. Women and children can be impacted by more than one form of abuse or face greater social disadvantage.
“Inspiring a network of lawyers to work and campaign here would be a serious advantage.
“The ideal situation would be introducing something like the Scottish Women’s Legal Centre for the north-east and there is an ideal opportunity for that in Grampian.
“The region is a come-and-go place where women do frequently visit from other places such as Shetland. We also have large rural communities.”
Currently there are a number of groups in Aberdeen who support women in need, including Grampian’s Women Aid, Aberdeen Cyrenians and Aberdeen Women’s Alliance.
Miss Ewen believes an amalgamated centre offering legal services is sorely missed.
“Up north can feel neglected and far away from the central belt, and if people agreed, they could write to their MPs to express this need. That would be amazing,” she said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are absolutely committed to tackling all forms of violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse and ensuring that victims receive the support they need.
“We are working with Cosla and key partners to implement our Equally Safe strategy across Scotland.
“We have invested significant levels of funding into front-line services, as well as working closely with statutory agencies to improve their response to victims and survivors.
“We also support the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre which is at the forefront of improving access to justice, offering free legal information and advice to women in Scotland who have or are experiencing gender-based violence.”