A candle was lit as South Lanarkshire councillors marked action against gender based violence around the world.
At the full council meeting on Wednesday, a motion was brought forward for the council to stand in solidarity with protesters in Iran in light of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The motion was brought forward by Councillor Janine Calikes (Rutherglen Central and North), and was welcomed by elected members.
A candle was lit and a minute of reflection was held to remember women in Iran who have lost their life as a result of protest and women in the community who have lost their life due to gender related violence.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence event began on November 25 and ends on December 10.
Councillor Janine Calikes introduced the motion, and she said: “On the 12th day of activism against gender based violence we acknowledge the council’s role in committing to ending violence against all women and girls, across our authority and beyond. We commend the work of officers across the council in educating and supporting and reporting where appropriate.
“While it is an indictment on our society that organisations such as WASLAN and Lanarkshire Rape Crisis not only exist but are stretched, we are grateful for the extremely valuable work that they do in our communities.
“But every councillor in our chamber would have had some experience or casework of gender based violence, that tells us that this issue is pervasive and we cannot rest on our morals we must be actively anti-gender based violence.
“Gender based violence is rooted in patriarchy that we continue to live with today, and although we’ve made great strides in progressing to a more equal society, the world is not an equal place, when one glass ceiling gets shattered another appears in its place.”
She added: “Looking across the world we see the legal status of the rights of women and girls, their human rights rolled back or more advanced. The right to education ignored; keeping women in poverty and unable to escape violent situations; the basic right to choose her own clothing or have her own level of autonomy curtailed; these girls’ levels of confidence, to say no when they find themselves assaulted by men.
“In Iran, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman with her life ahead of her was arrested by authorities for incorrectly wearing the hijab, she died in the custody of the authorities who she should have been able to trust to protect her. The women of Iran said enough, enough being forced to conform to standards of morality set by men, enough being met with violence in these men deemed them to have fallen short. These women have protested in the streets, they have publicly removed their hijabs if they wish to do so and wave them in the air, they’ve cut their hair in public, they’ve spoken and howled in the streets at the injustices they have faced and continue to face, they’ve risked their lives and freedom to say enough. Male allies have risen up to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and say enough. We see them, we commend them, we are inspired by their call to action and we revolve to do more to make meaningful lasting change.”
The issue brought forward discussion from other councillors who offered condolences and comments.
Councillor Lynsey Hamilton (Clydesdale West), said: “On behalf of the Labour group I’d like to lend our support to this motion that has been brought forward today. In the 16 days of action against gender based violence, more specifically, the current situation in Iran. It’s disappointing that we’re still needing to discuss such things in the chambers across the world and in this country, when women are being killed and sentenced to death in protest for their rights.
“This includes minors who have had to fight for their rights in something we take for granted. May all of the 443 people who’ve lost their lives and the many more who have been affected by this in Iran be in our minds today and in the coming months.
“Throughout the world more than five women are killed every hour by someone in their own family, more than one in three women experience gender based violence during their lifetime and less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence seek any help at all. This has been exacerbated by Covid where women’s problems have become even more hidden behind closed doors.”
She added: “Anti-feminist movements are on the rise and the legal status of womens’ rights have been attacked left, right and centre. Nonetheless, in America where abortion rights have been removed for women, in Afghanistan where there’s reports of urges in child marriage and this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of our international community. I think we should recognise these countries as well.
“It would be amiss of me not to mention the work that has been done locally in terms of work against gender-based violence. On Friday councillors joined me at the Hamilton Town House to mark the 16 days of action by having the building lit up orange, this is an important mark locally to show the women who live in our authority that we stand with them.”
Councillor Mo Razzaq (Blantyre), highlighted issues that women face across the globe, and he said: “Firstly I’d like to echo everything that’s been said, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything. I would also like to mention the fact that in countries around the world such as Afghanistan where the women have no right to education and also employment and the terrible mutilation in Asia and Africa just needs to be highlighted as well. I would also raise concerns about France and Belgium, in Iran the hijab is being forced on women but in France and Belgium you don’t have the right to wear a hijab and I think that’s wrong because that it should be done to the woman and it shouldn’t be done to any authority. A woman has the right to her own body.”
Councillor Mary Donnelly (Hamilton West and Earnock) requested that she be allowed to light a candle and hold a minute of reflection on violence taking place across the world.
Before the moment of reflection, she said: “The theme of this year’s campaign is unite against violence against women and girls, so we are asking men to step up to the plate and call out wherever they witness it and when they witness violence against women and girls. Whether it be in the workplace, the office, the pub, the social club, the football or in the home – call it out for what it is. No man has the right.
“Women were disproportionately affected during the pandemic, gender mainstreaming and intersection budget analyses must be at the heart of all this council’s response to mitigate its effects.
“Violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of gender inequality. Unequal power relations and societal norms sustain violence against women and girls and are pervasive in Scotland despite primary prevention being a core objective of our equally safe strategy, it is still not being operationalised consistently by Scottish policy makers. For example, in 2018 the Scottish Government paper ending homelessness did not include a gendered analysis of housing and homelessness despite the fact that domestic abuse is the most common reason given by women for a homeless application, a primary prevention approach would have ensured that these issues were embedded within the action plan from the outset, rather then needing to add a gendered analysis retrospectively, and that’s what the Scottish Government did do.
“I’ll conclude by saying I’ll light this candle in memory of not only the Iranian woman who lost her life in custody but to all women who have lost their lives at the hands of an abuser.”
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