The UK legal system is failing women is the conclusion of a new report from the Fawcett Society.
The ground-breaking Sex Discrimination Law Review (SDLR) Panel also found that violence against women and girls is ‘endemic’ in the UK.
The SDLR Panel was made up of a team of legal experts and chaired by Dame Laura Cox, DBE, a retired High Court Justice. It was set up to review 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 considered the effectiveness of current laws and how best to balance the rights of the individual with the responsibilities of the organisation.
The first-of-its-kind report calls for a number of specific changes to the legal system. These include strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties; making ‘up-skirting’ an offence; making misogyny a hate crime; making any breach of a domestic abuse order a criminal offence; and extending protection from pregnancy discrimination to six months after maternity leave ends.
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.”
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party said the report, “demonstrates that Time’s Up on politics that keeps failing women.
She continued, “We welcome this boldness of this report’s conclusion that an entirely new way forward is needed…”
“Fawcett’s conclusion that violence against women and girls is ‘endemic’ in the UK is an indictment of successive governments’ failure to deal with the problem.”