Legal advice combines with specialist support to help women experiencing gender-based violence
An innovative new centre is to make it easier for victims of gender-based violence access legal advice and information.
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) launched today (22 April) and is a partnership between Rape Crisis Scotland, the University of Strathclyde and the Legal Services Agency.
Women will be able to call the new centre’s helpline for legal information and advice on any aspect of gender based violence.
The SWRC also plans to develop a network of pro-bono solicitors to offer drop in services in rape crisis centres across Scotland.
Rape Crisis Scotland spokeswoman Sandy Brindley said women in Scotland who have experienced rape, domestic abuse or any other form of violence against women need access to free, specialist legal advice and support.
We believe this centre will make a significant difference to the lives of women in Scotland - Sandy Brindley
She added: “This could be to help make them aware of their rights to protective orders in cases of domestic abuse and/or stalking, advice on housing and welfare issues, or responding to queries about their role as a witness following the report of a rape or sexual assault.
“We are delighted to be involved in the development of this exciting new service, which we believe will make a significant difference to the lives of women in Scotland.”
Funding from the Scottish Legal Aid Board will cover the costs of a full time solicitor for the centre, who will be based within the Legal Services Agency and will provide free legal advice and representation.
The centre also receives funding from Foundation Scotland to cover the costs of a part time coordinator.
Colin Lancaster, deputy chief executive and director of policy and development at the Scottish Legal Aid Board, said: “We are delighted the Scottish Government is funding this project providing legal advice and representation to women affected by a wide range of issues related to gender based violence.
“This, along with the projects we manage delivering money and debt advice to women affected by domestic abuse under the Making Advice Work programme, will make an important contribution to our key aim of improving access to justice.”
The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre Helpline will run every Wednesday afternoon from 1.30pm – 4.30pm on 08088 010 789.