Cat-Calling Could Be Made Illegal In England And Wales
Cat-calling could be made illegal in England and Wales under proposed government plans, as part of a wider strategy to address violence against women and girls (VAWG).
The VAWG strategy will also include the launch of a ‘StreetSafe’ app, whereby women can record where they don’t feel safe, plus a public health campaign focused on perpetrator behaviour.
Furthermore, this strategy will see the introduction of a new national police chief responsible for tackling violence against women and girls, while the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will commission a 24/7 helpline for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
In a piece for The Times, Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote:
We will continue to look at gaps in existing law and how an offence for sexual harassment could address those.
I am committed to ensuring not only that the laws are there, but that they work in practice and women and girls are confident their concerns will be taken seriously.
She added: ‘It is important that the police enforce the law and give women the confidence that if they report an incident, it will be dealt with.’
Following the government’s response, anti-harassment organisation Our Streets Now said:
We welcome the government’s recognition that urgent and radical changes are needed to address the pervasive issue of public sexual harassment (PSH). Getting PSH on the agenda has been the result of tireless campaigning by the grassroots, youth-led Our Streets Now team.
Two years ago, this form of harassment wasn’t even recognised as a form of VAWG. Now it’s a number one priority, acknowledged and addressed by multiple government departments, from the Home Office to the Department for Transport.
As per The Guardian, Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence, also welcomed the long-awaited strategy, but added:
It has absolutely nothing in it about the sexual exploitation of adult women or any real sense about how it is going to ensure crimes like indecent exposure will be taken more seriously. Saying it on a document doesn’t make it so.
More than 180,000 people responded to a consultation on this strategy, held after the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard by Met Police officer Wayne Couzens.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas.
Male Survivors Partnership is available to support adult male survivors of sexual abuse and rape. You can contact the organisation on their website or on their free helpline 0808 800 5005, open 9am–5pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays; 8am–8pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10am–2pm Saturdays.
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