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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 08:05 GMT
Minister's fight against violence
To mark the 15th year of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Deputy Communities Minister Johann Lamont explains why the campaign remains as relevant as ever.

In an article for BBC Scotland's news website, the minister pledges to continue her efforts to highlight the "dreadful truth of violence against women".

Johann Lamont
Johann Lamont hopes the campaign will grow in strength

Looking back it seems as if I have always been political and even during my inner-city childhood in Glasgow I was aware that we lived in an unjust world - a world where some had more than others and where some were destined to live in poverty and need.

This inequality was evident in my city and it was evident across the world.

It was as I got older that I began to understand that inequality and injustice went far beyond an inequality of income.

I realised too that in eradicating inequality we needed to look far beyond people's individual financial circumstances.

That developing understanding came from being confronted by inequality experienced by women simply because they were women.

No matter how clever, no matter how talented, no matter how focused, women did not run the country or have control over those institutions that could drive change.

I remember the women trapped in a violent home whose tragedy was brushed off as 'a domestic'

For me, more than anything, what captured that growing understanding of inequality, was recognising the dreadful truth of violence against women.

As a young adult, I remember the early work of Women's Aid, the shock of reading for the first time Erin Pizzey's 'Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Might Hear'.

There were the 'Reclaim the Night' marches where we sought to challenge the prevailing view that a woman raped or attacked caused her own pain, for she had been in the wrong place or dressed the wrong way or 'asking for it'.

International action

I remember the women trapped in a violent home whose tragedy was brushed off as 'a domestic'.

The period between 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 10 December, International Human Rights Day, sees 16 days of international action to highlight the issue of violence against women.

We have come a long way over the years, but I hope we never forget the brutal fact of violence against women or ignore that it continues.

There is the terror of hearing a key in the lock and knowing you cannot be safe even in your own home, the fear of a child who cannot settle in school because of what is happening to his or her mother.

There is the recognition that across the world violence against women is used to traffic women, to prostitute them, to suppress them and to violate them in pursuit of the aims of war.

Domestic abuse advert
The executive has run a number of domestic violence campaigns

All of these should be a spur for us to act.

We know the police are better at assisting women survivors of violence, that the justice system is beginning to understand that women need to be supported and not to be re-victimised.

We also know that our schools are more able to help young people who live with domestic abuse and our government is committed to highlight the horror of violence against women, keeping the issue on the agenda here in Scotland.

Sixteen Days is an important part of highlighting the global experience of violence against women and re-energising our determination to eradicate it.

It makes us visit afresh the horror and appalling crime of violence against women, acknowledging that violence against women is still taking place and challenging why.

Every campaign of action hopes to change attitudes and true success is marked by there no longer being a need for the campaign to exist.

These 16 days of action serve as a powerful reminder that we still have far to go. My hope is that the campaign goes from strength to strength to achieve its ultimate goal of No More Violence.

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