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Cambridgeshire delegate tells Labour conference ‘I want my daughter and all women to have the fundamental right of feeling safe in their everyday lives’

Elizabeth said: “Every woman and girl should feel safe in their home, on our streets, in their school or workplace and in our wider community.”

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Elizabeth McWilliams of SE Cambridgeshire Labour group spoke up for the safety of women and girls at the Labour Party conference and her hopes for the action that a Labour Government will take. This morning, the Labour Party conference in Liverpool debated the topic of violence against women and girls.

In a wide-ranging debate in which many women shared their personal experiences, Elizabeth spoke of the harassment that women suffer every day.

She told the conference that we should no longer put up with misogyny.

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Speaking to the conference as a first-time participant, Elizabeth said: “Every woman and girl should feel safe in their home, on our streets, in their school or workplace and in our wider community.

“I cannot believe that we are in 2023 and we even need to debate this.

“Yet we do.

“Every day, women are told how to behave, what to say, how to look.

  • Comments shouted in the street: ’Cheer up love’
  • Being wolf-whistled at and being expected to take it as a compliment
  • The pressure on young girls so that half now use apps or filters to make themselves look ‘better’ online.

“The message that somehow, it is the woman’s fault. She wore the wrong clothes, said the wrong thing, behaved the wrong way.

“It is always for women to modify their behaviour. And modify it we do.

  • The women who pay for a taxi after a late shift because there is no other safe way to get home.
  • The women who keep quiet at work for fear of being labelled ‘strident’.
  • The women who will not put themselves forward to be councillors because of the risk of serious online abuse.

“These behaviours may be deep-rooted but that does not mean we have to put up with them. We no longer should accept that ‘boys will be boys’.

“We need to change the story. And we are:

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  • Sadiq Khan’s campaign for men to call it out if their mates use sexist language.
  • Unite the Union’s campaign to ‘Get me home safely’.

“And most of all, the action promised by Labour. To make misogyny a hate crime. To tackle harmful online content. To make sure police forces record all violence and harassment suffered by women.

“I want my daughter and all women to have the fundamental right of feeling safe in their everyday lives. I want the difference that a Labour Government will make.”

LABOUR BRIEFING

The full text of the motion that Elizabeth McWilliams was supporting

Every woman and girl should feel safe in their home, on our streets, in their school or workplace and in our wider community. Yet, violence against women and girls remains endemic in Britain today.

Under the Conservatives, our criminal justice system is failing the women and girls who become victims of these crimes. The charge rate for rape has collapsed and across the criminal justice system, millions of victims are now dropping out. Too many victims wait years for justice because of the huge backlog in the courts, caused by 13 years of Conservative chaos in the justice system.

Tackling violence against women and girls must be a coordinated effort across Government, not just limited to crime and justice reform, to ensure Labour can deliver on its mission in Government to halve levels of VAWG.

Conference Notes provided by Labour

  • The number of devastating and high-profile murders of women
  • Domestic abuse is the most prevalent form of violence against women and girls, with nearly 1 in 5 crimes recorded by the police being domestic abuse related.
  • The rising impact of online misogynist influencers
  • The centrality of relationships, sex, and health education (RSHE) in schools to tackling VAWG and online misogyny
  • The Private Family Law system often fails to safeguard children and DA victims, especially in cases of Coercive Control
  • The need to ensure that measures addressing VAWG are fully inclusive of all victims of VAWG, including women who are BAME, transgender, disabled, migrant women and children of domestic abuse victims.
  • the need for employers to take reasonable steps to ensure all their workers are safe

Conference calls on the Labour Party to:

  • Review sentencing for domestic abuse
  • Introduce a guideline minimum sentence of seven years for rape, which better reflects the seriousness of the crime.
  • Review the use of the Sexual Harm Prevention Order for sexually motivated violence
  • Roll out Specialist Rape Courts to tackle the unacceptably low rates of prosecution for rape by fast tracking rape cases through the court system to improve victims’ experience
  • Ensure a comprehensive reform of the Private Family Law system
  • Introduce a specific new criminal offence for spiking.
  • Introducing new custodial sentences for those who name victims of rape and sexual assault
  • Ensure domestic abuse survivors can access the support, including financial support, they need quickly
  • Introducing a survivor support package to improve victims’ experience in the courts – including fast tracking cases, legal help, better training for professionals
  • End the promotion of harmful content online to tackle harassment and abuse experienced on social media platforms.
  • Overhaul police standards system, by introducing new national compulsory standards on vetting, checks and misconduct.
  • Ensure within each police force in England and Wales there is a specialist rape and serious sexual offence unit and set accountable standards for the way victims of sexual abuse and violence are treated.

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