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The Government has announced a crackdown on sexual harassment as part of its plan to tackle violence against women and girls.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to look at new ways to ensure that women feel as though 'their concerns will be taken seriously'.
Derogatory behaviours like wolf-whistling and catcalling could be set to be included in new legislation, according to government sources, though no decisions have officially been made.
Patel said: "The safety of women and girls across the country, wherever they are, is an absolute priority for me.
"It is unacceptable that women and girls are still subject to harassment, abuse, and violence, and I do not accept that violence against women and girls is inevitable.
"I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.
"This strategy, shaped by the responses of those who bravely came forward and shared their stories and experiences, will deliver real and lasting change."
After surveying around 180,000 people, the government is set to publish a Violence Against Women and Girls proposal. It pledges to make 'medieval' and 'unacceptable' virginity testing - where women are inspected to ensure they have not had sex before marriage - illegal.
The proposal also promises to create a new national policing lead, which will oversee the emergency services' responses to crimes committed against women and girls.
The review is being published as reported cases of sexual assault against women are on the rise, though convictions for rape remain stagnant. The website Everyone's Invited also highlighted allegations that 'rape culture' exists within Britain's education system.
Jess Phillips, Shadow Home Office Minister, was critical of the government's actions, saying: "The services and support required to end Violence Against Women and Girls cannot run on warm words alone.
"How are we in a situation where we have better protections for statues than for women?"
One day women will be as politically important as cars but not today sadly, today we are behind statues, cars and boats, but a girl can dream https://t.co/1GbwKWWuXY
- Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) July 21, 2021
The Chief Executive of Plan International UK, Rose Caldwell, said she was 'very disappointed' with the lack of commitment to new public sexual harassment laws now in the government's proposal.
Caldwell said: "Without a new law, millions of girls will be left unprotected.
"However, the Government has recognised that this is an urgent issue that needs more attention. We urge the Government to quickly deliver its promise to review gaps in the legislation - and then it must commit to a new Public Sexual Harassment Law."
This news comes in the wake of mass public protests at the government's handling of the tragic murder of Sarah Everard earlier this year, and campaigners are seeking to see current legislation amended immediately in order to ensure the safety of women and girls.
The Home Office said: "This is a complex area, and it is important that we take the time to ensure that any potential legislation is proportionate and reasonably defined."
The Home Secretary wrote in The Times that the government is 'taking action' on sexual harassment, and it "will continue to look at gaps in existing law and how an offence for sexual harassment could address those."
Words: Tom Bedworth
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: UK News
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