Monday, September 27

The scale of violence against women demands a better response than that of Priti Patel | Andrea Simon

TOAfter the shocking murders of Sarah Everard, Bibaa Henry, Nicole Smallman and many other women in the last year, the government has finally published its last strategy to prevent violence against women and girls. We have had similar strategies in England since 2009, but the last one has been delayed for more than a year. It comes at a crucial moment, in which the shared experiences of being a woman or a girl, of being persecuted, harassed, attacked and having freedoms restricted due to the threat of male violence, has sparked a torrent of anger and protests in the community. Street.

The Home Office’s public call for evidence to inform its new strategy garnered more than 180,000 responses, the vast majority after it reopened following Everard’s assassination. It comes after last month’s government rape review, which included an apology for embarrassingly low prosecution rates, and the publication of an Ofsted review that found that sexual harassment has become normalized in schools and universities.

With so much at stake in achieving a correct response to violence against women and girls in all its forms, the strategy is a significant milestone and an opportunity to coordinate decisive actions from all parts of the state. In the police, education, health and transport fields, we have seen a series of measures announced. However, when it comes to the crucial issue of gender inequality and how it intersects with other disadvantages and impacts on black, ethnic minority, migrant, disabled and LGBT survivors of abuse, the strategy is disappointingly short, and the funding significant. for specialized services for women it is largely absent.

It is good to see a call for radical change that reflects the severity and magnitude of violence against women and girls. A proposed public awareness campaign aimed at challenging the behavior of perpetrators could prompt us to address the misogyny and gender stereotypes that underpin male violence against women. It will be critical for the government to work closely with specialized women’s organizations to achieve this.
Much additional support is needed for teachers to provide mandatory sex and relationship education. And that the government properly implements the Recommendations offered on sexual harassment, at least specific funding is required for teacher training.

As part of its package, the government announced a new national police lead for violence against women. This is a useful step, if it makes police forces that do not adequately investigate crimes against women more accountable. A recent joint inspection Police officers and the Crown Prosecutor’s Office made it clear that the criminal justice system’s response to rape crimes often lacks focus, clarity and commitment. Words are one thing, but a plan is nothing without responsibility if it is not carried out.

The measure to impose a new duty on employers to protect all their staff from harassment by colleagues, clients and clients has long been promoted and is welcomed. We also expected to see actions that address the evolving nature of public sexual harassment, addressing online harms such as cyber-flashing and abuse of intimate images. We need urgency to make the Internet a safe place for women and girls, including the recognition of violence against them as a specific harm online, and the online security bill they must have measures to address sexism and racism to which women are subjected.

The scale of abuse women and girls face on a daily basis requires strong rhetoric to be matched by equally energetic action. The Home Secretary has said that she does not accept that the violence women and girls enduring is inevitable and promises that your strategy will help bring about real and lasting change. I fully agree with the above statement. Unfortunately, the outlook for the latter is much less promising.

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