We often assume that our right not to be harassed are protected by law in our country yet did you know it’s still legal to publicly harass a person on the streets of Britain?
I have experienced harassment on the streets of most countries I wander. Indeed, I’ve come to expect harassment in certain countries such as Morocco where men openly exposed themselves in dark alleys or even open spaces. Even in the UK, I recall being approached by individuals or stopped by cars at the curb shouting lurid suggestions and, no, I’m not a prostitute! I’m grateful to live in Portugal where incidents such as these rarely happen.
Which is why I was so surprised to learn that harassed in public isn’t against the law in the UK. Yet with the recent murder of Sarah Edwards as she walked home in Clapham, London in March of this year, organisations are lobbying the government to bring in much-needed reforms to ensure that people (females in particular) are protected from harassment in public places.
A new street harassment law campaign is now underway as part of the government’s plans to tackle violence against women and girls referred to as VAWG in the England and Wales.
While Priti Patel, the current Home Secretary was initially reluctant to introduce such a law, she is now determined to give police the powers to crack down on perpetrators and carry out duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they need.
The stratergy will also include the launch of a new “Streetsafe” app which will allow women and girls to record where they have felt unsafe to warn others in the area.
About time, I say, especially in a liberal country such as the UK: A woman’s ability to walk the streets of her homeland in safety should be her natural right.
Have you been publicly harassed in the street of your country?
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(c) Samantha Wilson 2021. All Rights Reserved.