Rape is effectively decriminalised. What does the public want done about it?

Sienna Rodgers
© Bart Lenoir/Shutterstock.com
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Rape has been effectively decriminalised. This is the conclusion not just of women’s rights campaigners and organisations, but also of the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC. Boris Johnson has blamed the failings on cases not being in a fit state when they reach the Crown Prosecution Service. Others have said the prosecution threshold must have changed, which the CPS denies (and a judicial review found in its favour). Either way, Labour says it is “impossible to separate” the appalling statistics on prosecution levels “from the decade of Conservative cuts that have accompanied them”. The opposition party has published a green paper on the steps it would take to tackle violence against women and girls, and it is inviting submissions to [email protected].

We have published the results of exclusive polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList today. It found that 63% of British adults think the government is not doing enough to increase rape prosecution rates and 61% say it is not doing enough to tackle violence against women and girls. As for proposals to address the problem, 74% back the idea of a seven-year minimum sentence for rape convictions, 71% support new specific offences for public sexual harassment, 52% support classifying misogyny as a hate crime. Both dissatisfaction with inaction and support for all of these suggested measures is higher among women than men. Read our full write-up here.

In another infuriating woman-centred story, Labour MP Stella Creasy is preparing legal action in response to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s policy on maternity cover, which far from improving has actually worsened. Currently pregnant and working on this issue while in hospital with gestational diabetes, Creasy has been told that she cannot appoint a locum to provide full maternity cover – despite having done just that in 2019. IPSA has since decided that the concept is “misconceived in relation to an MP” and will not provide a budget for the hire, suggesting instead that she hire staff… who will report to her while she is supposed to be taking maternity leave. See the open letter in support of Creasy’s argument here.

Elsewhere on LabourList, we have Diane Abbott writing about the government assault on refugee rights, specifically Priti Patel’s plan to establish an offshore centre for processing asylum applications in Africa. In the House of Commons today, Tulip Siddiq will present a ‘ten-minute rule’ bill to make flexible working a “right for all rather than a perk for the few”. According to the TUC, 82% of workers in the UK want to work flexibly in the future, rising to 87% among women. “Four in five workers want to work flexibly, but a shockingly high proportion of requests for this are rejected by employers – often with little or no justification,” Siddiq said. “My cross-party flexible working bill would also give a huge boost to productivity, women’s employment and the economic recovery.” Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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