CAT-calling, wolf whistling and street harassment of women could become illegal under plans being proposed by ministers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to close loopholes in the law to make sure persistent harassers of women are dealt with if they can’t be prosecuted under existing laws.
The plans have been unveiled as part of the strategy to combat violence against women and girls.
It was flung into the spotlight in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard which prompted 180,000 women to share their experiences of sexual abuse and harassment in their everyday lives.
The Home Office said they were “looking carefully at where there may be gaps in existing law and how a specific offence for public sexual harassment could address those.”
But they’ve warned it is a “complex area” and the laws could take years to implement.
However they have launched a new online tool called ‘StreetSafe’ where women can report areas where they have felt unsafe and say why – handing cops vital intelligence leads.
The Home Sec will also hire a new top cop to deal with the issue and limit Non-Disclosure Agreements in cases of sexual harassment in places like universities, while the abhorrent practise of virginity testing will also be banned.
And £5million will be handed to local authorities to better protect women, with more street lighting, CCTV and unmarked cops outside bars and clubs.
Ms 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.
“This strategy, shaped by the responses of those who bravely came forward and shared their stories and experiences, will deliver real and lasting change.”
The Government’s Independent Adviser on the issue Nimco Ali added: “Crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls, many of which are disguised under the labels of tradition and cultural practise, such as FGM and virginity testing, have no place in our society.
“To address these crimes and tackle violence against women and girls across the board, Government and society must look at the whole system.
“The Strategy aims to do just that, taking action through legislation and education, and I hope will be the foundation on which we can build a safer world for women and girls.”
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