By Councillor Caroline McAllister, SNP member for Leven

As attention turns to International Women’s Day on March 8 with the focus on women’s rights, I read the headline in the local paper “Man hurled French fries at partner during assault at Dumbarton hotel” and felt despair.

We have a serious issue with violence against women and children in West Dunbartonshire yet this headline trivialises what the perpetrator did. The article goes onto state he “repeatedly punched her head and body”, in full view of a child. There is nothing trivial about this incident. The impact this serious attack had on the woman and child was glossed over aside from a brief mention of “swelling to her forehead”.

Some of the trite attempts at humour in the comments section on Facebook informs me we have a long way to go before all of society takes violence seriously.

More than 98 per cent of all violence recorded is perpetrated by men. The UN in a report states: “Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today, yet it remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.”

The UN Secretary-General has called VAWG a “global pandemic”.

The Femicide Census was published this week and highlighted the growing trend of women killed by men known to them.

In 2018, 149 women were murdered by men across the UK. More women are killed at the hands of men than by terrorist attacks yet people would be rightly outraged if terrorism was trivialised.

It’s only a couple of weeks ago we were informed that girls and young women in West Dunbartonshire do not feel safe when engaging in public life. The Plan International UK report highlighted that the area was the fourth worst area for girls and young women in Scotland. The report informed us many females felt women’s rights and empowerment were empty buzzwords and after seeing that headline, who could blame them.

The media play an important role in influencing people’s opinions and should report responsibly. Unfortunately all too often we see victim blaming and crass headlines implying the man was “driven” to carry out these barbaric acts.

We cannot profess to be a civilised and progressive country whilst we trivialise violence against women and children. Surely we can do better?