A CAMPAIGN calling for an end to violence against women and girls is launched in East Lothian today (Thursday).

Partners across the county and neighbouring Midlothian have joined forces to tackle the issue as part of a global campaign.

16 Days of Activism runs from today, which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until Human Rights Day on December 10.

Throughout the 16 days, individuals and organisations around the world unite to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The theme for 2021 is ‘What Will You Do?’ and people are being asked to consider what they can do to play their part in tackling the issue.

Gender-based violence is not just physical and can also include financial or coercive control.

In Midlothian and East Lothian, activities are being led by East and Midlothian Public Protection Committee (EMPPC), which brings together East and Midlothian Councils, NHS Lothian, Police Scotland, Edinburgh Rape Crisis and East Lothian and Midlothian Women’s Aid.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council’s leader, said: “Sadly, we know that too many people in our area are affected by gender-based violence and that the pandemic has increased this risk. We all have a part to play in reducing this risk.

“By taking part in 16 Days of Activism, we and our partners are signalling that we want to shine a light on this important issue and take action to end it.

"It’s vital that we all take time to understand what we can do to stop women and girls in our area living in fear from violence, and make sure that when they do come forward they are supported."

As part of the 16 days, Police Scotland will be undertaking outreach sessions at events in East Lothian – including Haddington Farmers’ Market on Saturday – to raise awareness of the issues and it’s ‘That Guy’ campaign, which aims to tackle the issue of sexual violence by having frank conversations with men around sexual entitlement.

Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre is also undertaking work with secondary schools in East and Midlothian around issues of consent and respectful relationships, and to create a toolkit for sharing across the counties.