Women’s abuse charity ‘lost council contracts for excluding men’ The Times 27.02.21

The original article is here.

Women’s aid groups are threatening legal action after claiming they lost lucrative public funding for providing domestic abuse services because they do not work with men.

North Lanarkshire council has cancelled its £350,000 annual payment to three groups in its area in favour of a new £1 million contract with Sacro, the offender rehabilitation organisation.

The Women’s Aid tenders for a contract were rejected when the council chose to fund “a specialist domestic abuse service that ensured compliance with statutory and legal obligations”.

“Sacro will provide a domestic abuse service which will predominately focus on women and children but will not preclude other victims of domestic abuse who may require support,” the council said.

Only one in ten domestic abuse cases involves women abusing men.

Monklands Women’s Aid, Motherwell District Women’s Aid and North Lanarkshire Women’s Aid all tendered for the new contract.

Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said she was “appalled” at the actions of the council and said legal action could be taken.

“North Lanarkshire is now the only local authority area in Scotland that does not commission Women’s Aid services, a sad reflection of their complete lack of understanding of the complex nature of domestic abuse and an upsetting dismissal of decades of work by grass-roots, local Women’s Aid services who are trusted and respected within their communities,” she said. “Given the severity of the situation, and the direct risk to the rights and protections of women and children experiencing domestic abuse, we are carefully considering the legal options available to us.”

A source at one of the affected Women’s Aid groups said the “gender neutral” tender process is unfair as they could never work with perpetrators of violence against women. “It has been grossly unfair and has left us all in a very precarious situation and could possibly mean reducing the numbers of women we can help.”

A council spokesman said Sacro won the tender which “was issued in accordance with procurement regulations for these services”. However, refuge provision was not included in the tender and the council would “continue to work with local women’s aid groups for this service”.

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