Wolf-whistle law proposed in UK

·2-min read

British Home Secretary Priti Patel has indicated street harassment such as wolf-whistling could become a specific crime as part of plans to better protect women and girls in public, at home and on the internet.

The UK government is due to release its strategy on tackling violence against women and girls later on Wednesday, with a raft of measures already announced aimed at increasing support for victims and survivors, reversing declines in conviction rates, and reducing attacks.

These include the creation of a new online tool called StreetSafe - which will allow users to pinpoint public areas where they have felt unsafe and say why - as well as a dedicated police officer in charge of tackling violence against females.

Patel also signalled her intention to take action on street harassment.

The strategy was based on 180,000 responses to the government's call for evidence from members of the public, with the vast majority of those coming in a two-week period following the murder of Sarah Everard near Clapham Common.

The 33-year-old marketing executive was kidnapped, raped and killed by off-duty Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens in March as she walked home, and prompted a widespread outpouring of grief and demonstrations over concern for women's safety.

Patel said: "The safety of women and girls across the country, wherever they are, is an absolute priority for me.

"It is unacceptable that women and girls are still subject to harassment, abuse, and violence, and I do not accept that violence against women and girls is inevitable.

"I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.

Writing in the Times, amid apparent plans to tackle wolf-whistling, the Home Secretary added: "We are taking action on street harassment.

"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."

Further pledges include the Ministry of Justice commissioning a 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline, while the Department for Education will work with the Office for Students to tackle sexual harassment and abuse in higher education, the government said.

The review is published against a backdrop of dismal conviction rates for rape, despite the number of reported incidents on the rise.

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