The tragic incident of Sarah Everard sparked a movement to raise awareness for women safety concerns. The appalling murder of Sarah Everard united the UK into fighting for women’s rights and protection. In a survey UN Women UK found that 97% of women surveyed have been sexually harassed. This large percentage shows how extensive the issue is; however, it is unsurprising to many. Harassment does not just happen during the night but often occurs in broad daylight. It is an issue that needs to be taken into action now.
All over the country, there have been movements and protests fighting for women’s safety. One protest in London caused awareness for change to happen. As a reaction to ongoing vigils and protest, there has been a plan for immediate steps introduced such as better lighting and CCTV and a pilot scheme that would see plain-clothes officers in pubs and clubs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them.”
During this week, another protest took place as over 500 people attended one in Millennium Square in Leeds city centre to show support to all women who had suffered abuse.
— Emma Glasbey (@emmaglasbey) March 15, 2021
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill
However, that is not the only thing they were protesting. They were also protesting against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Although the government is funding certain actions, this new law discussion has changed the scene. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill legislation is being debated by MPs this week to make significant changes across the criminal justice system. This Bill covers changes to protests. It restricts the ability to protest and gives the police powers to implement it. This means the police can:
- Set noise limits
- Impose a start and finish time
- Can fine up to £2,500 if the individuals refuse to follow police directions on protest rules
- Any damage to memorials such as statues can lead up to a ten year fine.
This legislation is aimed to keep people safe; however, it has been criticised as many are complaining that they have a right to fight back in peace. The Labour party argues that this is imposing control over free expression. Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It says lots of things about statues and almost nothing about protecting women and girls, and particularly dealing with violence against women and girls.”
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was passed through the House of Commons on Tuesday 16 March with a majority of 96 votes. 359 MPs voted for the bill and 263 voted against it.
What is your opinion on this new legislation? Let us know.