A piece in today’s Times:
Priti Patel is considering new laws to protect women against sexual harassment in public after the suspected murder of Sarah Everard.
The home secretary will review whether the police are making use of existing powers to deal with men who sexually harass or expose themselves in front of women.
Sources said that she would act to make public harassment a specific crime if the review concluded that the present laws were not sufficient to combat the problem.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has been asked to participate in the review.
Last night Patel urged female victims of male violence and harassment to come forward to help shape a new government strategy to protect women.
She reopened an official call for evidence, inviting women across the country to submit their views and experiences.
Findings from the survey, which will be open to receive submissions for the next fortnight, will inform a new government strategy on tackling violence against women and girls, which will be announced this summer. [J4MB emphasis]
Nimco Ali, a feminist campaigner who advises the government, said that there was a loophole in present laws that failed to punish men who direct explicit sexual and abusive comments at women in the streets.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, she said: “Street harassment is absolutely a form of violence towards women and girls [J4MB emphasis: Only with a ludictous feminist definition of the word “violence.] and it currently goes unreported and unpunished.”
Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said that better education for men about sexual harassment was “certainly something that we can look at again” amid calls for the government to put a greater focus on the problem in schools.
She told Sky News: “It’s important to stress that not all men are predators [J4MB emphasis: It’s not important, it’s blindingly obvious] and we shouldn’t get into that kind of language. But throughout our education system it’s not just geared up on the academic side but also developing people’s character and their interactions with others.”
Patel said that she was reopening her call for evidence after it was originally closed last month, because of the outpouring of experiences that have been shared by women on social media after the disappearance of Everard on March 3.
More than 15,000 responses were submitted as part of the initial ten-week survey and the Home Office is expecting that number to more than double in the next fortnight. The government is seeking responses from anyone over 16, including people who have experienced violence, those who work with survivors and relevant professionals.
Patel said: “While an awful incident like this is incredibly rare, it is worrying because it reminds women everywhere of the steps we all take on a daily basis, without a second thought, to keep ourselves safe.
“So many of you have bravely shared your own experiences of harassment, abuse and violence online over recent days, so today I am re-opening our nationwide call for views on tackling violence against women and girls. The government is listening.
“Everyone should be free to walk our streets without the slightest fear. [J4MB emphasis: A ludicrous statement.] With Sarah and her family in my thoughts and prayers, I will continue to do all I can in my role as home secretary to protect women and girls.” [J4MB emphasis: Men and boys can go to hell.]
Patel also defended the police yesterday as she sought to reassure the public that officers “serve with the utmost integrity and represent the very best of public service”.
Patel said that although concerns had been compounded by the fact that the man arrested in the case of Everard was a serving officer, the “vast majority” of police personnel were people of the highest integrity.
She wrote: “The professionalism and conduct I have witnessed through my own engagement with the police since Sarah’s disappearance has reminded me that the vast majority of police officers serve with the utmost integrity and represent the best of public service.”
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