An evening march through Galashiels last Friday was a fitting climax to 16 days of action, organised by the Scottish Borders Violence Against Women Partnership.
The so-called Reclaim the Night march through the town centre, which was co-ordinated by the region’s Rape Crisis Centre, attracted a large crowd of women, men and children.
“The idea was to reclaim the night as a safe place with a demand that we end the silence and end the violence,” said Andrea Beavon, Scottish Borders Council’s Violence Against Women (VAW) co-ordinator.
Last month, Ms Beavon reported to councillors that the cost of addressing domestic abuse and violence could be as much as £50million a year in the Borders alone, when criminal justice, police, health, social services, loss of economic output and legal costs are taken into account.
And she won approval for a new project involving a more co-ordinated community approach to produce better outcomes for women, children and the perpetrators of violence. The new service, which is applying for lottery funding, will be a first point of contact for victims and their children.
The 16 days of action initiative was timed to coincide with this month’s International Women’s Day.
Highlights included the 104 Shows exhibition in Melrose on March 12.
“This protrayed the reality of domestic abuse for many women and demonstrated the need to raise awareness,” said Ms Beavon.
“Shoes from Annie Lennox and J. K. Rowling and many other celebrities told of the symbolic importance of shoes being ‘the way out’, but also portrayed the struggles many women can identify with of being constrained by shoes which don’t fit.”
Meanwhile Vagina Monologues in the Heart of Hawick was a sell-out.
“Feedback from the entire programme, especially the march which attracted much attention and was safely marshalled by the police, has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Ms Beavon.
“It is the first time the Borders has taken part in the 16 days of action and we hope in can be repeated with more people playing a part in ending violence against women.”