Sexual Harassment in Public Spaces

5 Oct 2018
The MeToo hashtag written and held up on a piece of paper

On October 23rd following months of dedicated research and questioning the Women and Equalities Comittee  published its' research report  'Sexual Harassment of Women and Girls in Public Places'.  

Flo Clucas Chair of LDW wrote the following piece for Lib Dem Voice either click on the link below to read it in full with comments or go to show more to bring up the excellent article wording without comments.

Click To Read Article on Lib Dem Voice 

Three cheers for the Women and Equalities Committee report on sexual harassment of women and girls. Action must follow at least along the lines suggested by them.

In the 21st century, it cannot be right that as a society we fail to act to control behaviours that are unacceptable because of the fear, anxiety and restriction they place on others. Yobbish, bullying and intimidator behaviour, whether in the House of Commons or in the street should not be tolerated.

The report proposes a range of measures that the Committee believes will begin to address the problem, with seven key recommendations:

  • Force train and bus operators to take tougher action against sexual harassment and block the viewing of pornography on public transport;
  • Ban all non-consensual sharing of intimate images;
  • Publish a new “Violence Against Women and Girls” strategy;
  • Create a public campaign to change attitudes;
  • Take an evidence-based approach to address the harms of pornography, along the lines of road safety or anti-smoking campaigns;
  • Tougher laws to ensure pub landlords act on sexual harassment – and make local authorities consult women’s groups before licensing strip clubs;
  • Make it a legal obligation for universities to have policies outlawing sexual harassment;

It says something about our society that this type of action is seen to be necessary. The question is, does it go far enough?

There are no requirements, for example, for schools to have to incorporate within the curriculum, any reference to preventing sexual intimidation and harassment. One case that came to my attention was of a 14-year-old who was forced to move schools when things became so bad for her that stones were thrown at her bedroom window at 1 am by boys from her school.

Nor is there anything to provide for how things are to be done. Train operators seeking to remove guards from trains, for instance, should have to demonstrate that there is no risk to female passengers in so doing.

Consultation is one of those words that seeks to comfort the observer while providing for little actual say in how things are being decided. Without a change in the law that enables Sexual Entertainment Venues to open for limited periods without permission, consultation is meaningless. Recently, in Cheltenham, there was opposition to a SEV opening in a residential area. The Licensing Committee of the local authority listened to, and agreed with us protesters, and refused the application. The club opened anyway and did so, because it could, legally, for a short-term, without consent.

Perhaps clubs like this, before opening, should have to pay for additional policing to make sure women are safe within the locality.

As Liberal Democrat Women we will campaign to ensure that women and girls are safe on our streets. We can support much of the proposals that have been made but believe the gaps must be filled.

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