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Scottish Social Attitudes: Attitudes to violence against women in Scotland

Violence Against Women
Published: December 2020

This module from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey explores people’s attitudes to a wide range of forms of violence against women including domestic abuse, rape, sexual harassment and commercial sexual exploitation.

Funding comes from the Scottish Government with the aim of strengthening understanding of the nature of violence against women to ensure appropriate responses to those affected. This module of questions was asked on SSA 2014 and again in SSA 2019 so that we can learn whether attitudes to violence against women are changing over time.

Findings

  • Around 9 in 10 people said that a man raping a stranger (91%) and a man slapping his wife (93%) were ‘very seriously wrong’ and caused the woman ‘a great deal’ of harm (89% and 90% respectively).  This compares with around 8 in 10 who thought that a man raping his wife was ‘very seriously wrong’ (84%) or that it caused the wife ‘a great deal’ of harm (80%).
  • Over 7 in 10 (72%) thought a man taking out a stressful day at work on his wife by putting her down/criticising her was ‘very seriously wrong’. Meanwhile just under 7 in 10 (68%) said the same of a husband insisting on looking at his wife’s bank statements without showing her his own. Just over half (55%) said that a man controlling what his wife wears is ‘very seriously wrong’.
  • Just under 7 in 10 (69%) people thought a woman was ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped if she is wearing revealing clothing or is very drunk. Consequently, around 3 in 10 people believed that a woman is at least partly to blame for being raped in these circumstances.
  • Over four-fifths (83%) of people thought that a man offering a woman a spare room in his flat in return for sex was ‘very seriously wrong’. However, under two-fifths (38%) thought it was ‘very seriously wrong’ for a man to pay a woman for sex. Over half (56%) of people in Scotland said that paying for sex should be against the law.
  • There were some significant changes in attitudes between 2014 and 2019. Belief in certain rape myths declined, with the proportion of people agreeing that ‘women often lie about rape’ falling from 23% to 8%. Meanwhile 39% thought a group of men wolf-whistling at a woman is ‘very seriously wrong’, up from 25% in 2014.

About Scottish Social Attitudes

The Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) Survey is an annual survey that has been run since 1999 – this year marked its twentieth anniversary. It is a face-to-face survey that uses a random sample of all those aged over 16 and living anywhere in Scotland, so it provides a robust and reliable picture of changing attitudes over time.

This year 1,022 people took part from across Scotland.

For other Scottish Social Attitudes reports, visit our SSA research page.

Download from the Scot Gov website