USAWorld News

UK government backs bill criminalizing street harassment



The British government said on Friday it supported legislation to criminalize public sexual harassment, joining a handful of countries that have made specific offenses such as catcalling punishable by law.

The bill would introduce tougher penalties for those who deliberately harass someone in public because of the victim’s gender, the UK Home Office said in a statement, with the maximum sentence rising from six months to two years .

Amid a crisis of trust, London police are advising women to challenge officers they don’t trust

“Every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence,” Interior Minister Suella Braverman said on Friday. “And that’s why we support this bill to introduce a specific offense on sexual harassment in public.”

She said it was a ‘complex issue’ but the government had ‘considered the arguments carefully’.

“We put the needs of victims at the heart of our decision, which means criminals who commit these acts will face the consequences they deserve,” she said.

Support for the bill came after the Home Office consulted experts during Parliament’s summer recess. Most respondents said they saw public sexual harassment as a widespread problem and supported the creation of a specific offense “to make the laws surrounding public harassment clearer to the public and the police.”

The aim of the legislation is to “reinforce a change in the culture which establishes that it is totally unacceptable to abuse women in the streets”, the BBC said, quoting the bill’s sponsor, lawmaker Greg Clark.

If adopted, it would prohibit deliberately walking behind someone as they return home at night; make obscene or aggressive comments or gestures towards a person; and obstruct a person’s path. The ruling Conservative Party holds a large majority in parliament, meaning the bill is likely to pass.

Several other European countries, including Belgium, France and Portugal, have already criminalized verbal or public sexual harassment with one-off fines and prison sentences.

But in Britain, it was the grisly murder last year of Sarah Everard by an off-duty London Metropolitan Police officer that shocked the nation and helped galvanize calls for more great protection for women. 48-year-old officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped, raped and strangled Everard, 33, after driving around London in a hire car to ‘hunt’ a lone woman, prosecutors say.

The murder eroded public trust in the police and highlighted the dangers women face when alone or in public spaces. In August, 62% of Britons said the police do not treat sexual harassment seriously enough, according to global opinion firm YouGov.

British police are hiring applicants with a history of crime, harassment and watchdog discoveries

“We have always taken reports of sexual harassment very seriously, but I hope the proposed legislation will reinforce our clear message to perpetrators that it simply will not be tolerated,” said Charlie Doyle, Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, in a statement. Friday.

“We know that all forms of sexual harassment are under-reported to the police and I hope this increased awareness will encourage more victims to come forward and tell us about what happened to them,” he said. .



Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button