A CAMPAIGNING MSP calling for action to end violence against girls in schools led powerful summit in Inverclyde.

West Scotland's Katy Clark brought together local teachers, pupils, charities and councillors to the Beacon to talk openly about the impact of misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment.

They were joined by leading national voices including Fiona Drouet who set up her own charity to take a stand against gender-based violence after her daughter. an Aberdeen Uni student took her own life.

Greenock Telegraph: Charity founder Fiona Drouet speaks at summitCharity founder Fiona Drouet speaks at summit (Image: Duncan Bryceland)

In an emotional and frank session many spoke up about their fears following revelations that nearly two thirds of girls in schools have experienced some form of harassment.

Afterwards Labour's Katy Clark said: "In my former life, I was a criminal lawyer. When I learn about what goes on and the behaviour young girls are subjected to, I think we first of all need to call it out for what it is, it is a criminal offence.

"In any other walk of life some of the experiences of young girls, it would be a criminal. It shouldn't be different because it happens in schools. We have to start from that basis."

Greenock Telegraph: MSP Katy ClarkMSP Katy Clark (Image: Duncan Bryceland)

She added: "I thought it was a very worthwhile summit in Inverclyde, it was very successful and brought together many voices from all the political parties.

"It was very emotional and people shared their own experiences and I am glad they felt comfortable to do that.

"It is something I feel very passionate about and so do so many others. It is a massive problem and we need to take action. It start early, with education. We need girls and boys involved.

"It was very encouraging to see so many people there who felt so strongly, like I do."

Greenock Telegraph: MSP Katy heads up summit to tackle violence againt girls in schools

Katy Clark added:"Councillor Francesca Brennan has been very supportive of what I am doing locally.

"I have been doing sessions like this across the country, I decided to bring the public consultation on violence against girls in schools to Inverclyde.

"There is still a serious lack of understanding about the extent and nature of violence, harassment and abuse in schools and the increasing problem of sexist and misogynistic behaviour by boys towards girls and women staff. In an emotional summit at the Beacon Glasgow mum Fiona Drouet spoke about the death of her 18-year-old daughter Emily, a law student, in 2016.

Greenock Telegraph: Fiona Drouet speaks to summitFiona Drouet speaks to summit (Image: Duncan Bryceland)

Fiona set up her own charity EmilyTest to fight for a change in the law and for universities to have responsibility for students .

It is a part of a wider campaign by Katy Clark to get a strategy put in place to combat violence and abuse against women and girls.

Emily took her own life after a sustained campaign of physical abuse from her on off boyfriend.

At the summit Fiona said: "My daughter was given no support or help from her university. Through EmilyTest we want to make sure that there is a change in the law. Universities have a duty to protect their staff but not there students. That needs to change.

At the summer Duncan Shaw, who founded Safe Harbour an Inverclyde charity which cares for clients who have experienced extreme trauma set out their experiences.

Greenock Telegraph: Duncan Shaw from Safe HarbourDuncan Shaw from Safe Harbour (Image: Duncan Bryceland)He told the summit that every day they witness the impact of the emotional and physical abuse of women and young girls.

He said: "Inverclyde has one of the highest number of cases of female suicides in the country "Since lockdown almost 100 per cent of our cases are now female and 25 per cent of that is serious sexual assaults and 25 per cent of it is domestic abuse.

"In our seven or eight years we have had six suicides and it is six too many, they could have been prevented and we need to put the funding in to the right treatments."

At the meeting a number of politicians were involved from across the parties.

Greenock Telegraph: MSP Katy heads up summit to tackle violence againt girls in schools

Councillor Robert Moran hit out at the decision to change sentencing guidelines for under 25s convicted of crimes.

He added: "This sends out completely the wrong message, when you hear what is happening to people in  this room and the experiences they have had.

"That needs to be changed so that younger men don't get softer sentences."

It comes as Katy Clark asks for the Scottish Government to put a strategy in place to tackle violence and abuse against women and girls head on.