Monday, 20 February 2017

Surgery Cancellation- Friday 24 February 2017

Unfortunately, I am unable attend my surgeries this week, and will therefore be cancelling the following surgeries on this Friday 24 February 2017: 

Bellshill Cultural Centre- 10 AM 
Viewpark Community Facility- 10:45 AM 
Old Monkland Community Centre- 11:30 AM 
Charlotte Toal Community Centre- 12:15 PM 

This week is the first time since my election in 2015 that I have had to cancel surgeries. While I could potentially send my staff members to these surgeries in my stead, I believe it is disingenuous to advertise surgeries with myself to the public, only for me to be absent on the day. 

The reason for my absence is due to my attendance at an important debate. I will be participating in a debate on my colleague Eilidh Whitford MP’s Private Members Bill regarding the implementation of the Istanbul Convention has been scheduled on this date. 

The Istanbul Convention is a Council of Europe convention which aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. While a number of other countries have signed the convention, including Turkey, Italy, France and Sweden, to name a few, the UK is not yet a signatory. 

Numerous women in Scotland still face domestic violence every single day. Recent statistics show that 50,000 women in Scotland are reported victims of domestic violence every year. This statistic does not include those women who do not report incidences of domestic violence, either due to fear, manipulation, social stigma, or guilt. Violence against women is not just a problem for the 20th century, it is a problem for modern Scotland. 

The global swing to the right in the political sphere has brought with it increasingly concerning rhetoric and policy proposals in regards to violence towards women. Just last month, the Russian Parliament passed a bill 380-3 decriminilising domestic violence. Prominent politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have made comments downplaying acts of sexual violence. In Arkansas, a bill was recently passed which would require women who were raped to obtain permission from their rapist before seeking an abortion. In Texas, a proposed bill would take away voting rights from women who have had an abortion, by making having an abortion a felony. At the current moment, 25 programmes which aim to tackle violence against women are set to be cut in the US. 

Even the UK Parliament is not immune to this worrying trend of increasing levels of violence towards women. Just last year, it was reported in the press that a woman was raped inside the Parliamentary estate by an MP’s aide. 

On the 21st of January, 5 million people around the world took part in the Women’s March, a global protest against sexist legislation and increasingly violent political rhetoric in regards to women. They were asking for their voices to be heard by those who have the ability to change the status quo- elected representatives around the world. 

On Friday, I will be listening to their call for a change, and speaking up for those women who do not have a voice. 

I again sincerely apologise for having to cancel my surgeries, but I hope you agree the cause is worthwhile.