Activists from the Women’s Equality Party staged a protest in the Gallery of the House of Commons today, standing up during the debate on the Gemma White report wearing T-shirts bearing the question ‘WHY ARE THEY HERE?’ and the names of four MPs.
Kelvin Hopkins, Ivan Lewis and Charlie Elphicke have all been suspended from their parties while under investigation for allegations ranging from harassment to rape, while Mark Field has been suspended from his ministerial position while an investigation takes place into his aggression toward a protestor last month. Despite these ongoing investigations, the four MPs have been permitted to vote on a report into bullying and harassment.
In addition to the four MPs who are the subject of ongoing investigations, other MPs accused by staff members during the 2017 ‘Pestminster’ scandal have been cleared of a range of allegations after internal investigations conducted by their own parties. Today they were able to vote on whether independent investigations into historic allegations should be permitted.
“The fact that MPs who have not yet been cleared of harassment or violence have today been permitted to vote on a report specifically aimed at tackling harassment and bullying in the House is frankly outrageous. When you consider that these same men also have the power to vote on legislation intended to tackle violence against women and girls more broadly, including the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill, it should be clear that something needs to change.
“Some of these men have been in post for over 18 months, meeting with constituents and voting on our laws while facing extremely serious allegations. Our government cannot make a credible commitment to tackling violence against women and girls until it deals with these problems in its own ranks.” - says Korina Holmes, Women's Equality Party activist.
Last week the Gemma White report revealed that bullying and harassment remain rife in Westminster, while a previous report found that one in five people working there have experienced sexual harassment. This follows the Pestminster scandal, in which a total of 14 MPs faced accusations ranging from inappropriate text messages to harassment and rape.
The Women’s Equality Party welcomes Gemma White’s recommendations for an independent process to investigate allegations of harassment, and for provisions to allow historic allegations to be investigated.
Sign our petition to call for MPs to be fully suspended from their duties while under investigation and for changes to the 2015 Recall Act, to ensure MPs who are found guilty of violence or harassment can be recalled.
Women in Northern Ireland are still denied access to abortions in almost all circumstances. Reproductive rights are human rights and our Government has a duty to act to ensure that every women in the UK has the right to choose free, safe and legal abortions.
As we speak out against the rise of regressive populism across the globe we cannot ignore the persecution of Northern Irish women on our doorstep. We must stand together against moves to curtail women’s reproductive rights and to keep pushing for full decriminalisation of abortion everywhere.
Thanks to the work of Stella Creasy, reproductive rights organisations and cross party MPs the Government is empowered to act to uphold the human rights of Northern Irish women - lets keep up the pressure to ensure that they use this power.
Across the whole of the UK our right to access abortion is much more fragile than it seems.
Under the current law in England, Wales and Scotland a woman who ends her own pregnancy without the permission of two doctors can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
WE are demanding that the Government acts now to decriminalise abortion and uphold Northern Irish women’s right to access free, safe and legal abortions.
Sign our petition today to guarantee women’s right to choose across the whole of the UK.
The Women’s Equality Party today welcomed the extent to which the government’s Roadmap For Change on gender equality acknowledges many of the structural barriers that impact women over their lifetime. However, it criticised the solutions presented by the roadmap as lacking in ambition.Read more
WE are calling on Parliament to amend the Recall of MPs Act 2015, to give the public the power to recall their MPs in cases where they have been found guilty of violence or harassment by the Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Add your signature to our open letter to parliament below.
Conservative MP Mark Field was captured on film aggressively pushing peaceful Greenpeace activist Janet Barker against a pillar and grabbing her by the neck.
He has been temporarily suspended from his role as a Foreign Office minister while an investigation into his conduct takes place but will continue to represent his constituents in parliament and vote on legislation that affects women’s lives.
Violent people have no place in Parliament. Constituents should have the power to trigger a by-election where their MP has assaulted someone.
At present, constituents can only recall their MP if they are convicted of an offence and receive a custodial sentence; banned from the House of Commons for ten sitting days (a period longer than that possible for a single offence); or convicted of providing misleading information for allowance claims under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.
Field is only the latest in a string of MPs who have been accused of committing acts of aggression, harassment or assault against women while in public office, and yet not one of these men have lost their job as an MP.
Former MP Fiona Onasanya lost her Peterborough seat for lying about a speeding offence and Chris Davies lost his Brecon and Radnorshire seat for falsely claiming office decorations on his expenses. However, the fourteen MPs accused of harassment, violence or rape during the Pestminster scandal continue to sit in parliament, as does Mark Field - despite attacking a woman on camera.
An MP can only be recalled for assault if they receive a Custodial sentence. However, prison sentences for crimes involving violence against women are notoriously hard to secure. Only 1.7 percent of rapes reported to police in England and Wales result in a charge, while perpetrators of assault are often let off with a fine.
The lack of accountability in Westminster is unacceptable. At a time when one in five people working there has reportedly experienced harassment, this failure to act on violent behaviour sends a strong message that politics is not for women.
It is vital that constituents be given greater powers to hold their representatives to account when they exhibit violent behaviour. Mark Field grabbed a woman by the throat. The public should be able to send the message loud and clear that men like this do not represent us.
The Conservative MPs have selected their final two contenders from whom its party members will elect our next Prime Minister. Whoever wins WE know one thing: women have already lost.
Britain’s next Prime Minister will be chosen by just 160,000 people - a tiny proportion of the electorate. Those people are 71 percent male, 97 percent white, 86 percent middle class and have an average age of 57.
The people who will vote to choose our next Prime Minister do not represent our country. Nor do either of the candidates on offer.
Boris Johnson was such a liability as Foreign Secretary that his own team kept him under wraps. The Tories don’t believe he is the best man to deliver Brexit, they don’t believe he is the best person to save our country. They are supporting him to save the Conservative party. Self-interest is at the heart of this race and the men left in it have it in spades.
Sign our petition to let the government know that whoever wins this boy’s club contest, the new Prime Minister does not speak for us.
Just as he did with UKIP, the leader of the Brexit Party has shaken the Conservatives with his simple anti-EU, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Instead of responding with honesty about their failures the Tories are hedging their bets on their own “man of the people”, Boris Johnson. Those racist, sexist “slip-ups” are no accident: they are calculated to woo back voters from Farage.
The runner up might look safer in comparison. But neither of these men understand or care about women’s rights or equality.
Jeremy Hunt’s belief that the abortion term limit should be reduced to 12 weeks demonstrates his lack of respect for women and our bodily autonomy. His voting record shows up a belief that men in parliament, who outnumber women two to one, have the right to control women’s reproductive decisions. Boris Johnson has a history of objectifying women, from pinning up a topless calendar while working for the Telegraph in 1996, to referring to women volleyball players as “glistening like wet otters” as Mayor of London at the 2012 Olympics. These men do not see us as equals and they do not represent us.
A few weeks ago Twenty five right wing men who will never experience pregnancy banned abortion in Alabama and now Louisiana has followed suit passing a bill banning abortions after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected — before many women even know they are pregnant.
Attacks on hard-won women’s rights are growing more prevalent the world over. On our doorstep women in Northern Ireland are denied event the most basic reproductive rights, facing potential prison sentences for having an abortion in almost all circumstances.
WE stand in solidarity with women in Northern Ireland, Alabama, Louisiana and globally against this horrific curtailment of women’s reproductive rights. It is time to take a stand.
Just as the global #metoo movement showed the strength of solidarity between women across national borders, we must stand together against these moves to curtail women’s reproductive rights and to keep pushing for free safe and legal access to abortion for every woman in the UK.
Sign our petition to the Government to demand it guarantees women’s rights to free, safe and legal abortions in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
Kay Wesley is elected as Women’s Equality Party's first Councillor and WEP candidates achieve outstanding results in local elections across England.
The Women’s Equality Party has put diversity at the centre of its campaign for the Greater London Authority, fielding an impressive list of eleven candidates - including 64% Black and minority ethnic women and 27% LGBT candidates.Read more
The Women’s Equality Party launched its e-Quality campaign in 2017 to highlight how our current data and tech framework can harm women and minorities and undermine equal relationships, trust in institutions and democracy. Organisations like Glitch UK and Level Up have continued to campaign to end online abuse and put pressure on the government.Read more
To coincide with the publication of the Scottish Parliament’s new sexual harassment policy, activists from the Women’s Equality Party have today placed ‘Holylewd’ stickers on public signs around the Parliament building, highlighting the institution’s ongoing problems with sexual harassment.Read more