TW: PSH, Sexual Harassment
Public sexual harassment will be made a crime with jail sentences of up to two years with the government now backing legislation tabled by former business secretary Greg Clark.
Suella Braverman stated that “every woman should feel safe to walk our streets”
“We are putting the needs of victims at the heart of our decision, which will mean the criminals who commit these acts face the consequences they deserve.”
Greg Clark, who tabled the bill, stated that the intention of the bill is “to reinforce a change in the culture that establishes that it is completely unacceptable to abuse women in the streets”
“Public sexual harassment can affect men and boys, but we should be clear that it disproportionately affects women and girls.”
According to Plan UK, 54% of girls aged 12 to 14 have experienced public sexual harassment, and 75% of girls and young women aged 12-21 have experienced a form of sexual harassment in a public space in their lifetime.
Our co-founder, Gemma Tutton, spoke to BBC Radio 4 today about what the new law may mean for women, girls, and marginalised people across the UK. Gemma stated, “Today marks an important step in tackling public sexual harassment in the UK - one of the most common, yet often ignored and belittled, forms of violence against women, girls and marginalised people in our society.”
“We welcome the response from the Home Office and the news that the Government intends to support the new Bill, and we hope that this - along with wider cultural initiatives, such as changes to the curriculum - will send perpetrators a clear message that enough is enough.
54% of girls aged 12 to 14 have experienced public sexual harassment and 75% of girls and young women aged 12-21 have experienced a form of sexual harassment
This Bill is a good starting point, and a step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. We will now focus on working with Parliament and the Government to make sure this legislation is feminist and delivers what is required - ensuring it protects all those impacted by public sexual harassment.
Legal change alone will not end this problem - we also need cultural change across the UK, which is why we at OSN are working with councils, schools, universities, and transport providers to raise awareness of PSH, educate young people on its impact, and ultimately work towards prevention. Justice is important, but prevention is paramount”
Justice is Important, but Prevention is Paramount
Although campaigners have called for the bill to cover more, such as wolf-whistling and staring intently. Furthermore, as OSN and Plan UK state, due to the fragmented nature of many existing legal frameworks “many acts of abuse and sexually harmful behavior through the legal cracks, despite the immediate and longer-term harm they cause to victims”. Cat-calling scratches the surface of the myriad of dangerous situations that could occur, leaving people unsafe and furthering a culture of sexual harassment nationwide. Furthermore, Our Streets Now, alongside other campaigners and activists such as Plan UK, have been working towards this goal for years, and the lack of recognition is disappointing to see considering the sheer amount of educational work and activism that we’ve been doing for so long.
Whilst a great development in the fight against PSH, this legislation is a step not an end goal, and whilst justice is important, prevention is paramount in moving forward in order to create a safer future for women, girls, and marginalised people everywhere.