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More than 13 organisations across the Highlands and Islands are jointly campaigning to raise awareness of gender-based violence, in particular sexual violence, and how it affects people in our local communities.
Partners include Lochaber Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis centres, Police Scotland and University of the Highlands and Islands.
The #ChangeHerStory campaign is part of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence taking place from November 25 to December 10. For each of the 16 days, partners will be sharing resources and stories online, including those written by survivors.
‘This year, Covid has had devastating effects for many survivors of sexual violence,’ said Gwen Harrison, manager at the Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland (RASASH).
‘Lockdown meant no escape for people living with their abuser, support services were
interrupted, and court cases put on hold.
‘The outbreak doesn’t stop us from doing something about prevention though. This joint campaign provides us with an opportunity to generate greater public awareness and understanding of sexual violence in the Highlands and Islands.’
Sexual offences have continued to increase each year in Scotland, even as other crime
rates have gone down. According to Rape Crisis Scotland statistics, an estimated one in 10 women in Scotland have been raped. Yet, sexual violence remains a taboo topic that is rarely spoken about or recognised, especially in rural communities.
‘The first step is recognising the problem,’ added Gwen.
‘By speaking out about sexual violence, we can help reduce the stigma and let survivors know there are services out there that will believe and support them.’
The campaign is also calling on the public to show solidarity towards survivors. People are encouraged to post on their social media using the hashtag #ChangeHerStory or
anonymously via the website with a message of what they would like to see change for
women and girls.
These contributions will be shared during the final day of the campaign as part of a short film. This video will be a ‘virtual march’ in place of the annual Reclaim the Night event, which cannot take place due to current restrictions.
For more information about the campaign or to get involved, visit www.changeherstory.co.uk from November 25 to December 10.