I welcome the Scottish Government's debate on male victims of violence. The issue of violence against men has been sidelined for far too long. No matter what men's domestic situation is, it is vital that male victims of violence are given a voice to highlight the lack of availability of support services. Until recently, no specialist services to tackle domestic violence against men were established in Scotland.
For some time, I have worked with colleagues around the chamber, such as Mary Scanlon MSP, to raise awareness of male victims of domestic violence and to ensure that services are provided that meet their needs.
Evidence in recent years has shown an increase in the number of male victims of domestic violence. Figures on partner abuse from the 2008-09 Scottish crime and justice survey demonstrated that in cases in which partner abuse had been experienced since the victim turned 16, 38 per cent of offenders were females. The survey also estimated that only 8 per cent of men who suffered domestic violence reported it. That goes to the heart of the underreporting of domestic violence.
Despite the reported increases, services and campaigns have been targeted at women who experience violence, on the basis of statistical evidence that more cases involve female victims and male perpetrators. That basis is true, but it is wrong to deny that male victims of domestic violence have suffered from a lack of targeted support services in Scotland.
Female victims of domestic violence have women's refuges and can seek support from Scottish Women's Aid, but similar support is not available to men. Violence is violence and clearly is unacceptable in a modern Scotland, no matter whether it comes from a male or female perpetrator.