Violence against women and girls is still rife in our society. Last year 141 women in the UK were killed by a male suspect. This shocking statistic reflects the wider problem of misogyny. Before becoming an MP, I dedicated my working life to ending violence against women. This mission is far from over.
I am currently working with Avon & Somerset Police on a project to tackle violence against women and girls. After I wrote to the Police last year, they have asked me to lead a working group on the theme of Sport and Culture. This group brings together a broad range of organisations to discuss how we end a culture of misogyny which leads to violence. Together we’re putting together a series of positive commitments for sports and culture organisations, which will feed into a regional police summit this spring.
This group includes running clubs, professional sports teams, nightclub owners, tourism organisations and theatres, among others. These organisations, working together, can have a huge influence on our culture.
Some fascinating ideas are emerging from these discussions. Many of these organisations are showing real leadership by challenging the culture of misogyny and violence.
Sadly, such leadership is lacking when it comes to the Tory government.
Last week Labour held a Parliamentary debate on rape conviction rates, which have plummeted in recent years. Only 1.3% of rape cases are ever prosecuted. The Tories have effectively decriminalised rape.
Labour is committed to securing justice for survivors of violence. We‘ll fast-track rape cases, toughen sentences and raise conviction rates with a Survivors Support Package.
Labour will clear the backlog in court cases by extending court hearing dates and using more ‘Nightingale’ courts to get waiting times under control. Right now, in those few rape cases that are currently prosecuted, victims can expect years of waiting for justice, with the typical rape case now taking more than 1,000 days before completion.
One year one from the murder of Sarah Everard, women are still unsafe. Women are still looking over our shoulders, while most attackers walk free. The underlying belief systems and attitudes are still prevalent and need challenging.
This is not good enough. As your MP, I promise I will keep fighting to prevent violence against women and girls and challenge misogyny in all its forms.