Sexual harassment is a ‘reality’ for women and girls in Lancashire

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Sexual harassment is a ‘reality’ for women and girls in Lancashire.

It was the sobering message during a Lancashire County Council debate calling for misogyny to be considered a hate crime.

It came from Skerton County Councilor Jean Parr as she made a motion at a plenary council meeting at County Hall in which the Labor politician called on the authority to pressure the government to he introduced the necessary legislation and said that misogyny should be pursued “with as much vigor”. like other hate crimes ”.

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Parr County also wanted all incidents of domestic violence to be treated as violent assault or grievous bodily harm, prosecuted automatically without the victim having to file a complaint.

“Sex is a human need, but not a human right. This important distinction is unfortunately lost for some men who feel that women should oblige them, ”she said.

“Some who fail in a relationship – or have never had one – may get lost in a burrow of increasingly misogynistic groups on social media, ending in the Deep Web where incel [involuntary celibate] culture can be found.

“What should also be of concern to us is the chance that some of our sons can take this path. Immature boys, [who are] not sure about girls, may end up taking refuge in online pornography, ”Parr County warned, also calling for the creation of a government task force to assess the extent and impact of“ incel ”groups. Populated by men who blame women and society at large for the fact that they do not have a sexual partner.

The debate also heard disturbing details about the personal experiences of some county councilors and women they know.

Lancaster East member Lizzi Collinge said she was aware of the young women in town who wear shorts under skirts when they go out for the night, so “when – not if, when – they are sexually assaulted, it won’t be that bad ”.

County Coun Collinge condemned what she said was society’s expectation for women to change their own behavior to avoid being targeted.

She added: “The vast majority of violence and sexual violence against women is committed by someone who knows them. These aren’t monsters lurking in the bushes – they’re husbands and sons, teachers, garbage collectors, and policemen. They are everywhere – and our whole life seems to revolve around our security.

” It’s not sure [women] not to be raped and not to be beaten – it’s up to men to stop raping us and stop beating us.

Supporting the motion, Rossendale West County Councilor Samara Barnes told her colleagues that she herself was “a survivor of domestic violence … street harassment and even sexual assault.”

“I regularly receive unsolicited online abuse from men,” she told her colleagues.

“I can’t go back and change what happened to me, but I can do my best to make changes that will reduce this harm for my daughters.”

Barnes County said it was “a myth” to suggest that classifying misogyny as a hate crime would lead to the creation of a new offense, but instead ensure that police and courts recognize and deal with it. the cause of such incidents.

Preston Rural East member Sue Whittam told the meeting that “cultural change” was needed to eradicate “appalling and outdated attitudes that should have no place in today’s society”.

Conservative Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services Peter Buckley said that while misogynistic murders in Lancashire were rare, “misogynistic views, attitudes and behavior are not” – but he stressed that work was being done. going to fight them.

“Last year Lancashire Police recorded over 22,500 crimes with a flag of domestic violence reported – that’s over 430 a week and these are [just] those recorded. This council is already commissioning services that address the broader agenda of violence against women and girls, such as the healthy relationships program being rolled out to all high schools from early next month.

“This program is delivered by local providers specializing in domestic violence and will cover topics such as consent, misogyny, sexual harassment, stalking and online digital violence – and includes workshops to help staff… to working with young people who exhibit harmful and aggressive behaviors, ”explained County Cllr Buckley, who added that the county’s“ safer streets ”initiative was also designed to deter violence against women and stereotypes.

Introducing what is called a “friendly amendment” to the motion, Cosima Towneley, a member of the children and families cabinet, said she was trying “to extend Cllr Parr’s original work”.

“This is an issue that concerns all of us – men, women, cross-party,” she said, adding that it was “a fact that the majority of killings are carried out by someone known to the victim” .

The amended motion called for domestic violence and coercive control legislation to be “strictly and rigorously enforced … and prosecuted by the prosecution whenever there is sufficient evidence to make a conviction likely, even if the prosecution is not supported by the victim ”.

He also called on the government to “consider” defining misogyny and misandry – contempt for men – a hate crime.

However, Lancaster South East Labor County Councilor Erica Lewis said the changes were “an abomination”, undermining the objectives of the original proposal.

Referring to the inclusion of the need for “sufficient evidence” to prosecute assault cases against women, County Cllr Lewis added: “This is a known flaw in the surrounding system. prosecution of sexual assault and sexual offenses – what the police decide is sufficient evidence.

“[The original motion] request for automatic prosecutions – [the amendment] only says where someone else has decided [to take it] cheeky.”

However, a member of the Adult Services Cabinet – and former Lancashire Police Chief Detective Graham Gooch – said Cllr Lewis County did not appear to be “totally schooled in the process of the English legal system”.

“You can’t… prosecute unless you have proof.” Clearly, in the motion it says “even if it is not supported by the victim” – and it is true. But there has to be proof, ”he said.

Parr County said it accepted the amendment on the assumption that its original would not have been supported by the ruling group if it had not accepted the changes.

“I want it recorded that this council believes violence against women and girls – in all situations – must be addressed,” she said.

The amended motion has passed and the Authority’s Chief Executive, Angie Ridgwell, will now write Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden asking him to make ‘personal representation’ in relation to the council’s appeals. county on the subject.

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