I start with the strongest message possible that violence against men will not be tolerated under any circumstances by the Scottish Government.
That is not a new message, nor is this the first time that I have said that in the Parliament. Ministers in the previous Administration said the same thing. In nearly every debate that the Parliament has had on domestic abuse, violence against women or forced marriage, the message has been the same: violence, no matter who perpetrates it against whom, is wrong.
In the past we have focused on debating issues to do with the violence that women experience at the hands of some men. On one occasion, we had a members' business debate on domestic abuse services for all victims. However, today—I think for the first time in 11 years—the Parliament debates violence against men, and in particular domestic abuse of men by women or by male partners.
I pay tribute to members who have raised the issue with me and elsewhere. In particular, I pay tribute to the work of Mary Scanlon, from the Tories; John Wilson, from the Scottish National Party; Mike Rumbles, from the Liberal Democrats; and James Kelly, from the Labour Party. I also pay tribute to John Forsyth, who has campaigned on the issue for years.
Of course, men experience many forms of violence. The Scottish ministers have demonstrated their commitment to services for the victims of violence against men through SurvivorScotland's national strategy for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, which was launched in 2005. The national reference group that was established to deliver on the strategy has a range of members, including male survivors. In 2009, services for male survivors were identified as a key priority of the SurvivorScotland strategy. Funding has been allocated to a number of organisations to take forward the development of services for male survivors in Scotland.
I will focus on the serious issue of domestic abuse and the men who experience it. In 2008-09, nearly 8,000 men reported domestic abuse to the police in Scotland. Of those incidents, 7,336 had
During the past three or four decades, domestic abuse against women has been brought to the forefront of the political agenda and the public's mind—and rightly so. The vast majority of the Scottish population realises that domestic abuse is not acceptable, is a matter of concern and is a problem that needs to be addressed if we are to have a Scotland of which we can all be truly proud.