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Orkney White Ribbon project condemns violence against women

Standing up to Rape: Sexual assault campaigners protest in Kirkwall, Orkney.
Standing up to Rape: Sexual assault campaigners protest in Kirkwall, Orkney.

A new movement has been launched in Orkney which condemns violence against women in all forms.

The newly formed White Ribbon Orkney steering group met at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall at the end of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Now role models will be sought to act as volunteers who will influence men by speaking against all forms of abuse.

More than 13 organisations across the Highlands and Islands are jointly campaigning to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence and how it affects people. Partners include Rape Crisis Centres, Women’s Aid, Police Scotland, and University of the Highlands and Islands.

Chief Inspector Matt Webb, chairman of White Ribbon Orkney and the local domestic abuse forum, said: “We are looking for men to come forward and sign a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women in all forms. That is a White Ribbon pledge.

“We want volunteers to come forward as speakers to promote White Ribbon, by becoming a role model. Rugby coaches, football coaches, leaders in the construction industry are all getting involved.

“It is about raising awareness of violence against women and challenging male attitudes in terms of violence against women and girls.

“We want to encourage men to talk to other men and women, and end the climate of silence.

“Events will be held to get people talking about domestic violence. Unfortunately it is just not talked about. We want positive role models in our society condemning domestic violence in all its forms.

“If a man speaks about slapping his partner in the pub we want his friends to pull him up about it in an appropriate way, or the pub staff telling him he is no longer welcome. Sexist comments to the barmaid should not be tolerated.”

Zelda Bradley, service manager at Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service, said: “This year, Covid has had devastating impact for many survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence.

“Our service received the same number of referrals in six months that we supported in the whole of last year. This joint campaign provides us with an opportunity to generate greater public awareness and understanding of sexual violence across rural and remote areas, particularly our islands.”

Volunteer speakers are asked to contact whiteribbonorkney@gmail.com

The cathedral was floodlit blue on Thursday to celebrate International Human Rights Day and the end of the 16 days.

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