Government ministers have indicated today (July 21) that the acts of wolf whistling and cat calling could soon be made illegal in England and Wales.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government would be “taking action” on a range of safety concerns, with new proposals unveiled as part of the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
“We will continue to look at gaps in existing law and how an offence for sexual harassment could address those,” Ms Patel told The Times.
The new strategy is said to have been published against a recent backdrop of dismal conviction rates for rape offences. According to the i, less than 2% of cases lead to a conviction last year even though the number of reported incidents are on the rise.
It has been revealed that last year, just 1,439 suspects were convicted of rape and other sexual offences.
This is despite an estimated 128,000 people coming forward with reports.
Writing in the Times, amid reported plans to tackle wolf whistling and cat calling, the Home Secretary added: “We are taking action on street harassment [and] I am committed to ensuring not only that the laws are there, but that they work in practice and women and girls are confident their concerns will be taken seriously.
“It is important that the police enforce the law and give women the confidence that if they report an incident, it will be dealt with.”
Although the Home Secretary has indicated that the government will move to crack down on public sexual harassment, immediate new legislation is not expected to be introduced.
Rose Caldwell – Chief Executive of Plan International UK – said she was “very disappointed” that the strategy does not include the quick implementation of legislation on public sexual harassment, adding: “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 [and we urge it] to quickly deliver its promise to review gaps in the legislation – and then it must commit to a new Public Sexual Harassment Law.”
Prominent campaign group Our Streets Now – which is committed to “ending public sexual harassment in the UK by changing culture and creating a criminal offence” – has also released a statement on Twitter in response to the plans.
They have called it the “big first step” in recognising the “radical changes needed to address public sexual harassment”.
Andrea Simon – Director of End Violence Against Women Coalition – said: “The seriousness and scale of violence against women warrants radical change and a whole systems approach which has prevention at its heart [and] we welcome the recognition of this in the government’s new strategy.”
She continued: “However, to make this a strategy that delivers change, there must be accountability and the right level of funding that follows all aspects of the work.
“There is a distinct lack of resourcing here that cannot be ignored.”
Also in response to the new proposals, Shadow Home Office Minister Jess Phillips said: “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?”
“The government should step up to the plate and take action rather than more warm words,” she concluded.
A number of other measures announced in the strategy this afternoon include increasing support for victims and survivors, reversing declines in conviction rates, and reducing attacks, as well as further pledges for a new 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline and two new ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Transport Champions’ who will look at how protection can be offered on public transport.
It has been confirmed that a new ‘StreetSafe’ app will also be launched so women and girls can record areas they feel unsafe.
Featured Image – Pxfuel
Woman who protested alone outside Chanel show labelled ‘a queen’
A woman who staged a lone protest outside the Chanel show in Manchester last week has been inundated with praise from locals.
The woman was positioned on High Street, mere metres from where a-list celebrities and high-fashion models were parading for the fashion giant.
The fact that the exclusive event took place in Manchester has been considered a huge coup for the city, and one which will have had a significant economic impact.
But the woman outside the Chanel show chose the opportunity to highlight the stark contrast between the luxurious fashion show and the harsh reality of many living in poverty in our city.
She held a sign that read: “Over 250,000 children living in poverty in Manchester. Higher than UK average.
“Manchester has one of the highest level of homelessness. 1 in 74 people. 7407 and rising!
“Where have you hidden the homeless Andy??”
Speaking about Chanel, she told photographer Project Certi: “No one was consulted about this. It’s not for the people of Manchester. You can come here if you want a celebrity spot but that’s not for you.
“This sort of thing moves around the world, they’ll have it somewhere weird and wonderful every year, and this is kind of like, capitalising on the working class history of Manchester.
“The poster’s got, ironically, the suffragettes on it, you know, people fighting for rights. They’re using images from the Hacienda, they’re using music of Joy Division and New Order, all of that what made Manchester on the music map all came out working class struggle. It all came during Thatcher and the attack on the working class, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with 12 years of austerity.”
She also highlighted the man who died on the street in the Gay Village on a night where temperatures dropped, and the ‘cr*ppy B&Bs’ that homeless people find themselves housed in.
Speaking of the impact of Chanel on Manchester though, Deputy Leader Luthfur Rahman OBE said: “The impact of the decision by CHANEL to hold its prestigious Métiers d’Art show here in Manchester is something that is already resonating with people around the globe and is going to continue to be felt by the city for quite some time.
“It speaks volumes about the regard in which Manchester is already held across the world, but more importantly it also sends a clear signal to international businesses and the international visitor economy that Manchester is the place to be.
“It’s impossible at this stage to even begin to quantify the economic impact hosting the event has had on the city, or to put a figure on it. The true impact will involve not just the direct spend and income generated within the city over these last few weeks leading up to and during the event, but also the longer-term benefits that will come from the massive boost to Manchester’s profile that CHANEL has given the city, that in turn translates into more visitors coming to see what Manchester has to offer, and more businesses choosing to invest here.
“It has been without doubt quite a moment for Manchester, not least coming as it does off the back of many other significant moments for the city this year, that together place Manchester in absolute pole position on the world’s stage for the years ahead.”
In the comments on Project Certi’s video, one person wrote: “Thank you for giving this woman a platform.”
Another wrote: “Whoever this woman is, she’s a legend. As are you for capturing it.”
Someone else posted: “I have so much respect for this woman, I’d love to meet her and let her know she’s not alone in her feelings towards this.”
One comment said: “She is such a queen, bang on with everything she’s saying.”
Unexpected Manchester city centre street named ‘one of the most polluted’ in the UK
A new fieldwork study has revealed the worst air polluted city centre streets in the UK, and a popular Manchester thoroughfare has been named one of the worst.
Except, it’s really not the street you’d expect it to be.
For some bizarre reason, despite the fact it’s a pedestrianised commercial shopping street in the heart of Manchester city centre, Market Street has been named one of the most polluted streets in the country.
Recordings were taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country over a two-week period, and the results found that 76% are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended annual level of air pollution, The Hoot reports.
The study enlisted a planning consultancy to collect samples using an air quality monitoring device at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.
The study comes after a poll of 2,000 adults found that 36% have concerns over the health of the community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26%) or themselves (25%).
Speaking on the shocking findings from the new study, Sam Clarke, who is the chief vehicle officer at the sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.
“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the highstreets altogether due to air quality.”
20 streets in the UK were over the recommended World Health Organisation recommended levels of 5 µg/m3).
The Most-Polluted Streets in the UK
Stoke-On-Trent (Parliament Street) – 11.7
Newcastle (Northumberland Street) – 11.5
Leicester (Gallowtree Gate) – 11.2
Coventry (West Orchards Way) – 11.1
Hull (Jameston Street) – 10.7
Bradford (Broadway) – 10.6
Southampton (Above Bar Street) – 8.8
Nottingham (High Street) – 7.7
Luton (George Street) – 7.6
Manchester (Market Street) – 7.6
Northampton (Abington Street) – 7.3
Birmingham New Street – 7.3
Liverpool (Church Street) – 7.1
Derby (St Peter’s Street) – 6.9
London (Oxford Street) – 6.8
Sheffield (Fargate) – 6.3
Brighton (Western Road) – 5.6
Leeds (Briggate) – 5.3
Portsmouth (Commercial Road) – 5.1
“If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours,” Sam Clarke added.
“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly, from walking more to cycling, and including electric vehicles, is a very valuable set forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”