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Sexual assault law activists to gather outside Scottish Parliament to demand change

The event is intended to highlight how challenging it is for the vast majority of survivors to access justice,

Next Thursday, October 10 will see activists gather outside the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness on current laws that prevent rape cases being taken further.

Survivors of rape, sexual assault and childhood abuse are being urged to tell their story as part of an attempt to re-shape the Scottish legal system in how it deals with these types of offences.

Campaign group Speak Out Survivors has launched a project dubbed ‘#HearMyVoice’ which seeks to reveal the extent of sexual violence in Scotland by encouraging victims to record their experiences.

The group is inviting survivors to submit short audio files which include their name and the age at which they were assaulted or first abused.

The initiative comes ahead of a rally due to take place outside the Scottish Parliament on October 10.

Speak Out Survivors was set up by Emma Bryson, Suzy Angus and Shirley Ross, a group of child sex abuse survivors who blame the Scottish legal system for allowing their alleged attackers to avoid prosecution.

The group is calling for the scrapping of corroboration, the centuries-old legal principle which requires two independent pieces of evidence for a case to come to court.

Spokeswoman Emma Bryson said:

“On October 10 we are holding a rally outside the parliament to highlight the obstacles faced by survivors of sexual offences who engage with the criminal justice system, including the way that Scots law effectively protects offenders from prosecution, the low rate of convictions, and how sentencing fails to reflect the fact that these are serious crimes which often have life-changing consequences for the victim.”

“We want to give more victims and survivors the opportunity for their voices to be heard and so we will be launching an audio project, entitled #HearMyVoice, on the same day.”

Bryson said she hoped the project would help illustrate the scale of the problem in Scotland and the fact that anyone can be a victim, regardless of age, gender or background.

Credit: Speak Out Survivors

She added: “We hope that it will help others to understand how endemic the problem is, and we also hope that it will enable the survivors who take part to feel that their voices are heard and their experiences matter.”

Those taking part in the audio project are being asked to make a recording using their phone before using the ‘share’ option to send the recording by email to info@speakoutsurvivors.co.uk. They will then be asked to fill out a consent form.

The project comes as the Scottish Government prepares to publish research carried out into jury reasoning and decision-making. The research was a recommendation of a review carried out by judge Lord Bonomy into the safeguards that would need to be put in place should corroboration be scrapped.

Credit: Rape Crisis

Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “For many years we at Rape Crisis Scotland have raised serious concerns around the impact of corroboration preventing survivors of sexual violence and abuse from accessing justice.

“Time and time again across Scotland we hear that it is this very narrow and technical evidence requirement that prevents many cases from being taken forward, even where there is a wealth of other quality evidence.

“More recently Speak out Survivors have done an incredible job of highlighting the realities of corroboration and the impact of not being able to access justice.

“More and more survivors across Scotland are speaking out – it is clear that if we are to see the reform that we urgently need of our justice systems, then the voices of survivors must be heard.”

Demonstrations begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday, October 10 outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

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