Labour today publishes a detailed Green Paper on how to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls.
The unusual move for an Opposition party comes after the Government’s failure to take sufficient action in either its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill or the Queen’s Speech, and amid public concern that not enough is being done.
The plans would make misogyny a hate crime, toughen existing sentences for perpetrators of rape and stalking, create new specific offences for street sexual harassment and the practice of landlords asking for sex in lieu of rent, as well as introducing bold measures to reverse record low conviction rates for rape.
The wide-ranging, cross-departmental approach sets out a long-term response to tackling the misogyny that underpins the abuse women and girls face at home, in the street, at school, college and university, in the workplace, and online.
It would be strengthened by binding measures to hold the Government to account and ensure progress is made, building on legislation brought in by the Welsh Labour Government.
New proposals include:
- Toughening sentences for rape, stalking and domestic murder, reviewing sentencing for all domestic abuse and introducing whole life tariffs for those who rape, abduct and murder a stranger
- Removing legal barriers that prevent victims of domestic abuse getting the help they need, such as through legal aid and ‘no recourse to public funds’
- Bringing in new custodial sentences for those who name victims of rape and sexual assault
- Introducing a survivor support package to improve victims’ experience in the courts, including fast tracking rape and sexual violence cases, legal help for victims and better training for professionals to give people the help they need
- Introducing new measures for those who face additional barriers to protection and support, such as migrant, Black, Asian and ethnic minority, LGBT+, and disabled women and girls
- Training for teachers to help identify, respond to and support child victims of domestic abuse
- Introducing criminal sanctions for tech executives who do not act fast enough to remove misogynistic abuse on their platforms
- Repealing the rape clause for social security claims, reviewing single payments for Universal Credit and ending the five week wait, to ensure domestic abuse survivors can access the support they need quickly
David Lammy MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“The Conservatives are failing to protect women and girls from violent criminals, which should be one of the first duties of any government.
“With record low conviction rates for perpetrators of sexual violence and an epidemic of misogyny that makes women and girls feel unsafe, this Government is treating victims of violence as an afterthought.
“Enough is enough. Labour is putting tackling gender-based violence at the very top of our agenda.”
Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Domestic Violence and Safeguarding Minister, said:
“The violence that women and girls face is endemic, and no matter how much the Government want to paint a picture of it being a rare crime, the figures tell a different story. The Conservatives are letting women and girls down, but Labour will act.”
Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said:
“There have been too many warm words and far too little action from this Government. That is why I am proud that Labour is setting radical policies to tackle violence and harassment, whilst delivering the support so lacking for victims.”