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19 February 2010
500th Pledge Submitted on White Ribbon Scotland Website

White Ribbon Scotland Campaign Reaches a Milestone

‘I pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women in all its forms.’ Such is the wording of the pledge taken by supporters of the White Ribbon campaign all over the world. It is the ethos behind the campaign which aims to involve men in working to end violence against women and the ethos to which Don Ledingham subscribed this week when he registered himself as the 500th Scot to pledge their support online to the White Ribbon Scotland campaign website.

Don’s story was similar to many who have taken the White Ribbon pledge at www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk . He has been working with others in his area since 1999 to co-ordinate a multi-agency response to the spectre of violence against women. With many of these organisations being run by women, for women, there is a need for an access point for men who want to take part – and that is where the White Ribbon Campaign fits in. ‘As Chair of the Violence Against Women Forum in East Lothian I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of the White Ribbon Campaign’, says Don, a teacher and Education and Children’s Services for East Lothian Council. ‘Yet having found out about it at a seminar I attended yesterday I think this is exactly the kind of thing which could make an impact on reducing the horrendous levels of violence against women in Scotland.’

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global effort to involve men in tackling violence against women which originated in Canada. The campaign has now been taken on and adapted by over 55 countries worldwide, with Scotland first deciding to launch its own campaign in 2006. Since then White Ribbon Scotland has built a network of support across the country, has launched a website and has been successful in recruiting a full-time co-ordinator.

The website offers an easy entry point for men – they can take the White Ribbon pledge, read about the issues and also how to take action. The pledge commitment not to ‘remain silent’ about violence against women is a basic yet vital way for campaign supporters to make a difference in their own lives. ‘As part of a range of actions I think the one of the most important things we could do would be to change society’s attitudes - and particularly men’s attitudes - to violence against women,’ says Don. ‘Violence against women is rooted in inequality and through challenging this we stand a better chance of changing societal beliefs which legitimise exploitation of and violence against women.’

Don himself has witnessed violence against women first hand. His father was a GP who practised at home; he would offer refuge to patients who he knew to be suffering from domestic abuse. ‘I was brought up in the family home which doubled as my father’s surgery. At regular intervals throughout my childhood my mother and father would bring women and their children into our home to afford protection against the woman’s partner.’ On one occasion the partner of a women hiding in Don’s family home tried to force his way in. ‘He tried to push his way past my mother to get to his wife but he hadn’t come up against anyone like my mum who blocked the door with her foot and kept calm while she told me to phone the police.  I think I was 9 or 10 at the time.  They eventually arrived and took him away but the incident is indelibly etched on my memory: the fear in the woman’s eyes; the man’s anger and rage; my mother’s resolute refusal to give in to him; and, the fact that this was something that needed the police.’

Don hopes to use the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness of the issue in East Lothian and to promote the campaign to men in his area. ‘We look forward to working with Don and fellow White Ribbon supporters to establish a local campaign group in East Lothian,’ says campaign co-ordinator Callum Hendry. ‘We are delighted that Don has added his name to the growing list of campaign supporters and by building local networks we can continue to expand as a campaign and to work towards preventing violence against women.’

If you are interested in finding out more about the campaign please visit www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk or get in touch at info@whiteribbonscotland.org.uk .
 

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FACTS


26% of Scots surveyed in 2007 thought that a woman bore some responsibility for being raped if she wore revealing clothing

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