Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Justice, Women and Equalities and MP for Bath, used her speech on the Government’s proposed Policing Bill to focus on its shortcomings in preventing widespread violence against women and girls.
Wera Hobhouse said:
“What the Bill should enshrine is making misogyny a hate crime. The awful murder of Sarah Everard resonated so deeply with women across the UK, because public sexual harassment remains a daily reality for far too many women. And, at the moment when women came together to grieve the loss of a life and publicly express their solidarity, their protest was silenced.
“Our society is letting women down and this has to change. Over 600,000 women are sexually assaulted each year. Only one in six report it to the police. And, last year, over 50,000 women reported being raped. Only 1,400 rapists were convicted.
“This is a far cry from a fair justice system. The Government needs to do a lot more. We need stronger measures to prevent violence against women, and we need a justice system that supports survivors.
“There needs to be better training and resources for police, prosecutors and judges, so criminals are punished and survivors get the justice they need. We need to ratify the Istanbul Convention, so survivors of rape and sexual abuse are never left to struggle alone.
“And we need to recognise the root causes of violence against women. In the same way that we recognise homophobic, racial or religious discrimination, making misogyny a hate crime would help us understand how the hatred of women causes harm.
“It would give our police the tools they need to make our streets safer for women. And it would send a strong message that everyday sexism must and can be stamped out.
“It is time that this Government showed it is taking violence against women and girls seriously. We should not let this Bill be a missed opportunity to do just that.”
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