Edinburgh Labour candidate calls for racism and attacks on women to be high on agenda after election
Racism and attacks on women must be high on the agenda of the Scottish parliament after the election. according to Edinburgh Pentlands Labour candidate Lezley Marion Cameron.
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The Liberton/Gilmeron councillor said she was "shocked" and "appalled" that a 26-year-old East Asian woman had been rushed to hospital after an unprovoked daylight attack on St Patrick's Street on Friday. The woman was said to have been approached by a group, grabbed by the hair and forced to the ground.
Councillor Cameron said: "I cannot condemn this strongly enough. I don't know what's going on in the city. I'm just so appalled by it.
"It's shocking this happened unprovoked in daylight, but women should be safe at any time anywhere in our city.
"The debate needs to shift onto people's behaviour towards others."
The assault comes after the “despicable” racist attack of a 22-year-old student outside the University of Edinburgh library in December last year, not far from Friday’s alleged incident.
Councillor Cameron said there was sometimes a reluctance to highlight such attacks for fear it would show Edinburgh in a bad light.
But she said: "We are a city known for our international outlook, our influence on the world – we have to stand up."
She said police and CCTV could help catch those responsible for attacks, but preventing such crimes was a wider issue.
"I want to see investment in community safety, but it's a societal thing – it's education, it's tolerance, it's respect, it's role models, it's fundamentally about how we behave."
She highlighted the "Reclaim our streets" campaign and said there was a wide range of issues affecting women which needed to be addressed, including addiction, poverty and poor provision of public toilets.
"There is an upswell of concern in our city about a whole host of issues around women's safety and services."
Councillor Cameron, who chairs a cross-party council working group on equalities, said women with an addiction problem were often reluctant to come forward for support if they had children because they feared social services would take their children away from them.
"There is a whole panoply of issues of concern to women which the pandemic has highlighted and austerity has highlighted.
"It's clear to me that women, who make up 52 per cent of the population at large, are becoming increasingly concerned for their safety and the provision of services.
"And it's not just women – men and boys want their sisters, mothers, wives or partners to be safe as well."
She said provision of safe, clean public toilets was a basic service which ought to become a statutory obligation for local authorities.
"Public loos are absolutely up the public agenda but they should always have been there because it's such an important thing we all need.
"I think provision of safe public loos – staffed and cleaned – should be a statutory service. Councils aren't obliged to provide it at the moment, but I think that's something the Scottish government should consider. "
And she said in the face of cuts to public services and attacks like the one on Friday, there was a need for government to work with the city council to tackle the issues.
"I want the Scottish Government to fund local authorities to enable us to do all this important work – to make our city safer, more vibrant, prosperous, more equal and get rid of poverty. All tiers of government need to work together to create a capital city and Scotland where these things do not happen."