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Tackling sexual violence: toolkit launched


‘Equally Safe in Higher Education’, toolkit, #EmilyTest, gender based violence, Scottish universities and colleges‘An important day for all Scottish students’.

New practical guidance for universities has been published as a toolkit to help Scottish universities and colleges tackle gender-based harassment and violence on campuses.

It was developed by Strathclyde University and in collaboration with a range of external ‘partners and stakeholders’ including Police Scotland, NUS Scotland, Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, ASSIST Glasgow, Zero Tolerance Scotland,  Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre and Scottish Women’s Aid, and with Scottish Government funding.

And it includes guidance and training for staff to help them identify and support victims and survivors and have clearer code of practices and sanctions for perpetrators.

Guidance and training for staff, better data collection and well-publicised support information for students are some of the recommendations set out in the toolkit

The ‘Equally Safe in Higher Education’ toolkit is based on a campaign set up by Fiona Drouet, in memory of her daughter Emily who took her life after an abusive relationship with a fellow student at Aberdeen University.

That campaign called for increased Scottish Government funding for colleges and universities so they could support students affected by gender based violence (GBV).

The Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit recommends that each university:

Develops a strategy and implementation plan to tackle gender-based violence;

Establishes a Strategic Group to oversee the implementation of the strategy and appoint a named champion or coordinator to report on progress;

Introduces guidance and training for staff in responding to disclosures of gender-based violence and supporting victims/survivors;

Develops a secure data collection system to record incidences of gender-based violence and undertakes research to ensure the extent and nature of the issue on campus is fully understood;

Ensures well-publicised points of contact for students reporting gender-based violence; and

Introduces policies for staff and students, including a clearly established code of conduct, disciplinary procedures and sanctions for perpetrators of gender-based violence.

Fiona Drouet described the launch of the new toolkit as ‘an important day for all Scottish students’.

“This is Emily’s legacy and I hope both staff and students will feel empowered by this resource,” she said. “Institutions now have the help they need to pass the #emilytest and I believe that had this been in place while our daughter was at university it could have saved her life.”

Dr Veena O’Halloran, the University of Strathclyde’s Secretary and Compliance Officer, said: “We are determined that Scotland has an environment where every student has equal access to help and support, and where university communities – staff, students and alumni –  tackle gender-based violence head-on.”

Scotland’s Universities minister, Shirley Anne Somerville, said she had issued a letter of guidance to all universities and colleges outlining their duty to adopt the policies and procedures in the document.

She was, she said, keen to see this commitment translate into real, demonstrable action and change for women living, working and researching on campus.

To see the full toolkit, click here.

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