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New findings on attitudes to violence against women in Scotland 

New findings on attitudes to violence against women in Scotland 

Only 3 in 5 people in Scotland think a woman is not at all to blame for being raped if she wears revealing clothing (58%) or is very drunk (60%), new findings from ScotCen Social Research’s Scottish Social Attitudes survey reveal. The report on attitudes towards violence against women, commissioned by the Scottish Government to address a gap in current evidence, explores in detail the attitudes of people in Scotland to violence against women and shows that as many as 5% thought that the woman was entirely to blame for being raped if she was very drunk. 

Social divisions on victim blaming

The findings also reveal stark contrasts in attitudes to rape between different social groups:

  • Age: Younger people were significantly less likely to blame the victim for being raped – 70% of those aged 18 to 29 years old thought a woman wearing revealing clothing was ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped, compared with 38% of those aged over 65
  • Education: 65% of people with degrees thought a woman who was very drunk was ‘not at all to blame’ for being raped, compared with 46% of those with no formal qualifications
  • Income: 70% of those in the highest income group thought a woman wearing revealing clothing was ‘not at all to blame’, compared with 50% of those in the lowest income group

The research also covered the attitudes of people in Scotland to a range of other issues including:

  • Revenge porn: 88% said that they thought an ex-boyfriend posting naked photos online was ‘very seriously wrong’, while 87% thought it would cause ‘a great deal’ of harm.
  • Domestic abuse: a higher proportion felt it was ‘very seriously wrong’ for a man to get angry and slap his wife (92%) compared with a wife slapping her husband (81%).
  • Prostitution: 34% of respondents thought paying for sex was ‘always wrong’, while 10% thought it was ‘not wrong at all’.

Susan Reid, Research Director at ScotCen commented: “Today’s findings show that although most people in Scotland feel that violence against women is wrong, views vary considerably depending on the circumstances. For example, in certain contexts more people feel that a rape victim is partly to blame. Changing people’s attitudes is essential to eradicating violence against women and girls; this report highlights how far we still have to go.” 

ScotCen interviewed 1,501 people throughout Scotland between May to August 2014 using random probability sampling. 


For more information about the Scottish Social Attitudes survey, please contact: / 020 7549 9550 


ScotCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone. 

The Scottish Social Attitudes survey aims to produce high quality survey data to inform both public policy and academic study. It has a long time series (dating back to 1999) on public attitudes towards devolution and independence. Further details about ScotCen Social Research and the Scottish Social Attitudes survey are available at 

This research, commissioned by the Scottish Government, is intended to address a gap in the evidence base about people’s attitudes towards different forms of violence against women: sexual violence, domestic abuse (physical, verbal, mental and emotional), sexual harassment and commercial sexual exploitation. It will provide a baseline measure of views in Scotland against which progress towards the objectives outlined in Equally Safe (an ambitious new strategy launched by the Scottish Government, to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls) can be assessed.