The report is the conclusion of the Fawcett Society’s Sex Discrimination Law Review (SDLR), which included the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) on its panel. It reviews the UK’s sex discrimination laws in response to the risk that long-established rights could be eroded or weakened as a result of Brexit and leaving the EU single market. It also considers the effectiveness of current laws and how best to balance the rights of the individual with the responsibilities of the organisation.
The report is calling for a range of specific changes to the legal system, including strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties, making ‘up-skirting’ an offence, making any breach of a domestic abuse order a criminal offence and reviewing the law on the admissibility of previous sexual history evidence in rape trials.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:
“What we see is a deeply misogynistic culture where harassment and abuse are endemic and normalised coupled with a legal system that lets women down because in many cases it doesn’t provide access to justice.”
Dame Laura Cox, Chair of the Review Panel added:
“The evidence we received, of increasing levels of violence, abuse and harassment against women, was deeply disturbing. A lack of access to justice for such women has wide-ranging implications not only for the women themselves, but also for society as a whole and for public confidence in our justice system.”
Responding to the report findings EVAW have said:
“We must ensure that women’s rights are not limited or reduced as Brexit unfolds. In the face of endemic levels of sexual harassment and violence across our institutions and workplaces, we must look at the effectiveness of current laws and the opportunities to strengthen access to justice, and to challenge persistent cultures of disbelief and the too often trivialisation of violence against women. “
The report can be downloaded here.
Image: Fawcett Society