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New offences for violence against women and girls proposed by Labour

By May 26, 2021May 28th, 2021Government, Human Rights

Prohibiting street harassment, banning rent in exchange for sexual favours, and making misogyny a hate crime, are among a list of new offences that Labour have proposed. 

The opposition party are focusing highly on violence and abuse against women and girls in a new green paper around the issue. The publication aims to highlight what it believes to be gross inadequacies in the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill, as well as the Queen’s speech.

Shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister Jess Philips claimed that regardless of the government insisting that violence specifically targeted at women and girls is a rare crime, it is in fact “endemic” and that “the figures tell a different story”. 

The party also hope to remove barriers to legal aid for victims of domestic violence, including to refugees and migrants with no recourse to public funds. 

Focusing not just on physical crimes, but also digital ones, the green paper also targets social media and internet offences. The document posits the need for criminal sanctions for tech executives who do not act quickly or decisively enough to remove sexist or misogynistic abuse from their platforms.

As well as introducing new offences, proposals also include increasing and toughening sentences for rape, domestic murder, and stalking; the minimum tariff for rape would be seven years under Labour proposals. 

Opposition ministers further highlight the need to hold the government to account on the issue with specific benchmarks and targets to measure progress being made on male violence, domestic abuse, and sexual violence. They cite the system currently used in Wales, where ten national indicators of progress made against violence against women and girls can be used to measure government effectiveness. Labour believe this system should be rolled out nationally. 

Changes need to be made on a ministerial level in order to effectively carry out these proposals, so Labour have also called for the creation of a specific ministerial position with oversight of the safety of survivors of sexual assault. This would involve the Ministry of Justice, the attorney general’s office, public health departments, and the Home Office.

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