Disturbing leniency (Andy Holt)

Reading the court reports for last week one could be forgiven for thinking that one might have done a Rip Van Winkle, fallen asleep for 20 years and woken up to find a change in the legal system from Scottish to Sharia.

I thought the message from the Scottish justice department was that knife crime be taken seriously, but not it seems if the victim is a woman. Threatening someone with rape at knife point and actually drawing it down their body strikes me as pretty damn serious and worthy of more than a lecture, a supervision order and community service.

There appears to me to be a discernible pattern in the punishment of violent incidents perpetrated against women by their partners and ex-partners in Shetland, with some serious assaults being treated with a disturbing level of leniency. There are deeper scars than just the physical ones left by such threats and assaults which can often affect the victim for the rest of their lives.

Isn’t it time that an example was made of some of these violent men and a very firm message enforced by a custodial sentence and education, that violence against women will not be tolerated in a civilised society? Alongside zero tolerance of knife crime there needs to be an emphasis on greater respect by men towards women and women for themselves, encouraged at home, in school, in the media and throughout society generally, including our criminal justice system.

Andy Holt
North House,
Papa Stour.


Add Your Comment
  • Harry Dent

    • July 12th, 2011 13:12

    Some good points about how seriously (or not) society treats violence against women, especially when the violence is meted out by the victim’s partner.

    However, the generalised sideswipe at Islam does nothing to support Mr Holt’s case. You can debate endlessly what constitutes Sharia law and what does not, but the fact is that in several Muslim countries the penalty for rape is death, much harsher than most people in Britain would advocate, Mr Holt and me included.

    Islam’s attitude to women is the subject of much argument, but wild generalisations don’t add anything to the debate.

  • L Watt

    • July 15th, 2011 14:11

    Fully agreed with all your points. Thank you very much for standing up to say something about it. As a woman and a feminist, it is incredibly encouraging to see good men getting involved and speaking up about this issue.

    However, I also have to agree with Mr Dent regarding the Sharia law comment. I understand the point you were trying to make, but that assertion wasn’t particularly helpful.

  • Fiona Johnston

    • July 15th, 2011 15:04

    It wasn’t a generalised side swipe at Islam. It was a reference to Sharia Law, which requires that a female rape victim has to have 4 male witnesses to support her assertion of rape before the case can be tried. Under Sharia law the weight of a female’s voice and her worth in probate is 50% of a man’s.

    Mr Holt is absolutely right; it has to be clear that violence against women is socially unacceptable and it must always carry a custodial sentence.

    Shetland has a history of lenient sentencing over the past 40 years – and look where its got us.

  • Mark Ritch

    • July 22nd, 2011 15:11

    Not often you hear the words ‘Sharia’ and ‘Leniency’ in the same sentence – the former not often associated with the latter.

    Agree with Fiona – violence against women is abhorent, regardless of any cultural apologia but Andy’s dig at Islam reflects a deeper prejudice. There’s plenty of precedence in common law and social norms in our own society to make the case. Dragging Islam into the argument is irrelevant and – slightly pathetic – particularly when Andy’s own Good Book provides plenty of justification for such goodies as infanticide, slavery and the turning of women onto pillars of salt,

    Might be best to agree on the social justice outcomes and leave the religious vilification out of it, eh?

  • Ian Kitson-Hyde

    • July 30th, 2011 9:24

    “Threatening someone with rape at knife point and actually drawing it down their body strikes me as pretty damn serious”…obviously, not to some members of our legal system.


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