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‘Elimination of Violence Against Women’ 2023

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

is marked every year on November 25th.  This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the UN campaign, this year demanding we ‘Unite! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls’.   Yet sadly little has changed. The 16 Days of Activism will include marches to ‘Reclaim the Night’ and raise awareness in various ways of the epidemic of violence women face. Society is not really invested in change.  In fact society often excuses the men who hurt women.  In Scotland and the rest of the UK there have been a similar number of murders of women through domestic abuse or stranger murders this year.  And similar battles remain to be won.


Last year’s extreme low point for the women of Scotland came on December 22nd, when the Scottish government passed the odious Gender Reform Bill to the acclaim of the massed ranks in the gallery.  For almost a month it remained like that until the British government intervened, saying the legislation was beyond the powers of the Scottish government.

Over the last year, some things have become clearer.  It became clear that self-identification of males as females would open the door to predators.  Not all men are predators, but most predators are men. Public opposition to the bill became stronger.

The nature of the fight became clearer.  Most people recognise that women bear no ill-will to trans people, but demand the right to safe spaces away from biological males.

More commentators are speaking up in support of gender-critical women.  It is only a shame it took so long. The problems of self-ID were exposed dramatically just after the parliamentary decision in December, when Nicola Sturgeon spluttered a non-answer as to whether the rapist Isla Bryson was a male.  In the end she could not say if he was male or female, merely calling him ‘the rapist’. He was sent rightly to a men’s jail, but would not have been but for a public outcry.

To the Scottish government’s eternal shame, the women of Scotland had to be rescued by the British government.  But the Scottish parliament could still not admit they had got it badly wrong, and Humza Yousaf’s government is fighting in the courts to overturn the s35 ruling; that is, fighting to make women third class citizens in Scotland – first would be men; second, men identifying as women; third actual women.  The government is framing it as an attack on devolution, which it is not.  We await the outcome. For women, there is still no peace.


Different sports have different rules for the inclusion of biological males in female sports, although most seem to be coming round to the idea of refusing to admit males who have gone through puberty into the women’s competitions.


Women scored a major victory this year in getting help at work with the problems associated with menopause, but no sooner had we got this than some men decided that age-related falls in testosterone levels meant they also had a form of menopause and were demanding time off work for hot flushes.  Women also finally obtained recognition of the crippling condition of endometriosis only to have a biological male appointed as head of an endometriosis pressure group.

In wider society, women still face systemic safety problems in public spaces.  Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures indicate women feel less safe than men in all settings after dark, and are self-excluding from parks or open spaces and on public transport after dark.

We remain unprotected as the sex of female from hate crime in Scotland unless we can also identify into one of the other characteristics, such as we are old, religious, atheist, disabled.  We were assured we would soon have protection under the anti-misogyny bill, but still it has not appeared. In Scotland the justice system attacks women through sentencing guidelines which have benefitted the men who kill or rape women, by granting them lesser sentences for heinous crimes, even though that was not how the sentencing guidelines were supposed to work.

The justice system often condemns women for drinking too much, wearing short skirts, and so on, but simultaneously excuses the vilest of male crimes on the grounds that the men are not grown up enough.  But they are grown up enough to commit the crimes.

Other countries have similar problems.  In Ireland, Ashling Murphy was the victim of a vicious male who had trawled Tullamore, Co. Offaly, for 4 hours looking for a victim, finding Ashling out jogging on a lonely towpath.  He later tried to claim he had been attacked by a man who had then killed Ashling.  He had slashed her neck 11 times.  This week he was found guilty and faces many decades in jail.

In London, Zara Aleena was stalked by a stranger and murdered as she walked home, but this month he had his sentence cut by 5 years as it was deemed ‘excessive’ in accounting for her suffering.

Domestic Abuse

According to Police Scotland figures for 2021/22, around 80% of 65,251 domestic abuse incidents had a female victim but a male accused.  In Scotland, Claire Inglis was murdered by her ex who was incredibly freed on bail to stay at her home with her and her young son.  This decision led to her death after he inflicted 76 injuries on her.  He was jailed for 23 years.

And Scotland’s judiciary uses sentencing guidelines (note, not rules or obligations, but guidelines) to reduce the sentences on violent males for sexual crimes and murders, however much pain they have inflicted.

Women have allowed society to fool us into believing that equality is ‘sameness’, that we have the same physical strength as men, the same ability to process vast quantities of alcohol as them, the same attitude to casual sex.  None of those things are true.  Like it or not, men are physically stronger, more able to ‘drink us under the table’, invest far less emotion.

Women are still facing an onslaught of those who want to take away our rights to safe spaces and reduce our legal protections.  They have been abetted by a Scottish government which gives in to the craven demands of men to be women, a government which took us out of the hate crime bill and has left nothing in its place.  We are in enough danger already from predatory men’s greater physical strength and type of offending, as well as the current and ongoing coarsening of men’s attitudes to women.  We do not need governments to collude, even accidentally, in making it easier for bad faith actors to access women and girls.

Can you imagine if there was such an epidemic of violence against men, with 2 to 3 males dead every week at the hands of women, that things would not have changed by now?  Would this be the 32nd year of a campaign for men?

Julia Pannell



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