#OnlyStatuesMatter - PHASE TWO ✊
The government’s Policing Bill suffered significant defeats in the Lords, but this new legislation will still introduce an absurd potential ten-year prison sentence for defacing a statue while doing nothing to end violence against women - unless we keep the pressure up.
New measures have been added to the Bill to make misogyny a hate crime and to tackle drink spiking, but the government will throw them out unless we act now. Help us send a message to the government that women’s lives matter more than statues.
While the government has been battling to pass this indefensible legislation, 1.6m women are experiencing DA every year, and nearly ninety percent of women have reported experiencing harassment. Women are being let down.
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Don’t let the Government roll back our rights to at-home medical abortion services
At home medical abortion services have revolutionised access to sexual healthcare. It has reduced the number of women accessing online abortion pills illegally by nearly 90%, increased speed of access to services despite a global pandemic and is the preferred form of treatment for the majority of patients.
There is absolutely no justification for withdrawing telemedical abortion services, and denying many women access to services and putting even more pressure on our health service.
Sign below to demand that the Government maintain access to telemedical abortion services.
Demand that your MP calls for an independent inquiry into the impact of the Covid pandemic on Disabled people.
- Follow this link to find and contact your MP.
- Use the template copy below to send to your MP.
- Edit the email to include your MP's name and your name, and to include any additional comments.
Dear [Your MP’s name] MP,
I am writing to ask you to act urgently to call for an independent inquiry into the impact of the Covid pandemic on disabled people, which also includes an analysis into the impact that gender has on outcomes for disabled people.
A study carried out by the Office for National Statistics and researchers at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine , issued a report in June of this year. The report’s findings included the following:
[D]isabled people were at higher risk because they are disproportionately exposed to a range of circumstances that actually disadvantaged them, as no single factor explained the results. In addition, we found that disabled people were at higher risk of death from all causes during this period, only a fraction of which involved COVID-19. This finding implies a need to improve services and access to healthcare for disabled people, and tackling the drivers of disadvantage and excess mortality, both during and after the pandemic.
Over a decade of austerity that has targeted disabled people, a fundamental lack of funded social care and multiple barriers to accessing education or work have led to higher mortality rates. While disabled men have also seen a huge disparity in outcomes, the additional discrimination faced by women puts disabled women at higher risk.
Key facts from this study include:
- People with learning disabilities were approximately 4-5 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19, and 7-8 times more likely to die.
- Working-age disabled women with higher support needs are 91% more likely to die then their non-disabled counterparts.
- Working-age disabled women with lower support needs are twice as likely to die as their non-disabled counterparts.
- 58% of those who died from COVID-19 in England were disabled people.
When Dominic Cummings shared the whiteboard picture with the words “Who do we not save?” We knew the answer was Disabled women.
In the summer the Women’s Equality Party Disability Caucus protested for 91 hours at Parliament square to highlight these shocking findings and to demand an inquiry The caucus also held local protests and an online rally to demand change.
Disabled women are not just a statistic you can ignore, but women with full and ordinary lives. We are your sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties and friends. We have careers and degrees, and we have hopes and dreams just like everyone else. Disabled women should not have been more at risk of dying from Covid.
As your constituent I am asking you to please join calls demanding an inquiry into the impact of the Covid pandemic on disabled people
[Your name and address]
Dear Sadiq Khan,
Women are exhausted, we are heartbroken, we are afraid. Over the last week women across the UK have been united in their sorrow and rage over the disappearance of Sarah Everard, and the fact that a Metropolitian Police Officer has now been charged for her kidnapping and murder.
This weekend women shared their stories of the lengths they have to go to try to feel safe in our city. Holding keys like knuckle dusters, avoiding going out at night, hiding disabilities, pretending to talk on the phone, walking down the train until they find a carriage with another woman. One woman described pulling strands of her hair out in a taxi to leave DNA evidence in case anything happened.
Enough is enough. You have the power to change this.
- The Met cannot be trusted to investigate their own officer, especially when they are being investigated for their handling of an earlier indecent exposure allegation. As Police and Crime Commissioner for London, you must ensure the investigation into Sarah’s death is passed to a neighbouring police force.
- Invest in a specialist police squad to tackle gender based violence in London and restore women’s trust in the criminal justice system. Hold the Met to account for improving charging rates.
- Make ending violence against women and girls your top priority. Set and publish targets for crime reduction and appoint a Deputy Mayor to take the lead.
- Guarantee sustainable funding for specialist violence against women and girls services based on need, so that no woman is ever turned away from safe refuge in our city. This must include migrant women.
Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. You, as Mayor, as London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, have a choice about whether and how to respond to the realities women and girls in our city are facing. For far too long our very real fears have been minimised and ignored by politicians. But enough is enough.
Leader of the Women’s Equality Party
Dear Sadiq Khan,
We are writing to ask you to make London a Sanctuary City for abused migrant women.
Our city is facing two pandemics, the COVID-19 virus and the violence that it exacerbates. In the last year, rates of domestic abuse and other forms of gender based violence have spiralled across our city, and despite government rhetoric, many migrant women have been left to face that abuse alone.
The government recently announced that it was putting travellers up in quarantine hotels, demonstrating that they have the resources and infrastructure to rapidly house people when there is political will. But they refuse to demonstrate that will, support or funding to ensure that migrant women are not trapped with their abusers.
As you know, the government’s ‘hostile’ or ‘compliant’ environment policies are stopping migrant women from leaving abusive relationships or seeking help. By stamping passports with No Recourse to Public Funds and excluding migrant women from accessing the welfare safety net, the government is denying women and children safe refuge and trapping them at home with their abusers. We can and must do better.
In the last year you have shown leadership on this issue by providing safe accommodation to 200 women fleeing domestic abuse - including migrant women. You have also funded a limited number of temporary bed spaces for women with No Recourse to Public Funds by funding the Covid-19 Crisis Project run by Southall Black Sisters and Solace Women’s Aid, but this is nowhere near enough to meet demand. Many women remain trapped in abuse and without hope of protection and support. Even with the surge in domestic violence during lockdown, which has resulted in a 34% increase in calls to domestic violence hotlines, four in five migrant women are still turned away from refuges - often with children in tow.
We are asking you to go further by overriding the government’s inhumane policies to make London a Sanctuary City, just as Mayors across the US have done in response to Trump’s racist immigration enforcement actions. We are calling on you to ensure that migrant women in London will never be referred to the Home Office if they report their abuse to the police, and to guarantee each woman and her children:
- Safe accommodation
- £50 allowance per week, plus extra for children
- Access to wrap-around specialist support
- Legal advice and representation
Violence is not inevitable. Mayors always have a choice about whether and how to respond to the challenges facing the people and communities they represent.
We urge you to stand up to the government and to defy their inhumane hostile environment policies by ensuring that the most marginalised women are given the sanctuary and support to rebuild their lives. In doing so, you will be sending a message that London must be open and safe, for everyone.
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women's Equality Party
Pragna Patel, Founder and Director of Southall Black Sisters
Baljit Banga, Executive Director, Imkaan
Rosanna Lewis & Ngozi Fulani, Sistah Space
Jasbindar Bhatoa, Senior Legal Officer, Rights of Women
Gisela Valle, Director, Latin American Women's Rights Service
Halaleh Taheri, Founder & Executive Director, Middle Eastern Women & Society Organisation-MEWSo
Gabriela Quevedo, Director for Advocacy and Influencing, Latin American Women’s Aid
Matt Hawkins, Co-Director, Compassion in Politics
Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive, NIA
Camille Rouse, Legal Advice Service Manager, London Black Women’s Project
* Sign the letter & listen to the audio version at the bottom of the page
*Added 24th Feb - Today, the Government announced that some people with learning disabilities would be added to the vaccine priority list. This is progress, but it is nowhere near enough. There are still tens of thousands of people across the country who face far higher risk of severe illness or death than the general population who will not receive priority access to the vaccine - demand action today.
Nadhim Zahawi, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment) and Matt Hancock, MP and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
The last year has been an exceptionally hard one for those of us who are disabled or chronically ill. Many of us were given the instruction to shield, and many more made the choice to do so in order to protect our health and others’. We watched as lockdown eased and our friends, family and colleagues went back to work, out for dinner, and visited each other, and while some of us were able to enjoy the same freedoms, many were not. When the R rate started to rise and the obvious danger the country was in became clear, we locked down early and did not make plans for Christmas.
The one shining light at the end of a very dark tunnel was the vaccine. We knew that for once, even though there were business leaders and public personalities calling for disabled and chronically ill people to be locked up even longer and left behind because of our ‘lesser value’ to able-bodied people, we would be prioritised for the vaccine, which would mean our lives could finally start getting back to ‘normal’.
As the roll-out started, however, language around priority levels was suddenly amended, apparently omitting many of us entirely. Suddenly whole swathes of people with underlying chronic health conditions, many of whom have self-shielded all year due to far greater risk of death and side effects from the virus, appeared to have been removed from the vaccine priority list. This terminology change caused real anxiety and confusion to those self-shielding, adding the worry that despite the severity of their conditions and their vulnerability to the virus, they would be made to wait behind those who are at far less risk.
A new concern began to emerge as the roll-out progressed and those shielding began to receive their invitations: many shielders struggled to get on the approved list. The gaps in the system are huge and widely reported, with some rare conditions ignored and those whose GP records say something different from their hospital records being falsely marked down as low priority. Many began to worry that they would be denied vaccines because of the original, flawed system for shielding and found that there was absolutely no-one to call if they needed clarity or felt that a mistake had been made. We heard from people who were being told one thing by their specialists and the opposite by their GP, who advised them to simply wait and see if they received a letter. With 19% of working adults having a disability, there are millions of people who have been left in the dark about their vaccination status. As GP surgeries work round the clock to vaccinate their patients, many of us have been left unable to get through to a doctor. When we do, we are chastised for seeking clarity.
The lack of clear information for those people with rare conditions or allergies has also led to many people being unsure whether a particular vaccine will be safe for them, or how to opt out of the Pfizer vaccine which has caused some anaphylactic reactions. Others undergoing regular treatment or taking specific medication have been told that they may not do so for a period after being vaccinated, and so require enough warning between invitation and vaccination for contingency planning, so this treatment gap does not lead to an otherwise inevitable decline in health and a drastic increase in symptoms. While we appreciate that the speed of the roll-out is fantastic, the lack of time to plan is a barrier to those on treatment waiting lists.
Disabled and chronically ill people are being asked to put absolute trust in a system which left many of us locked inside without support in the early stages of the virus, which issued illegal blanket DNRs to learning-disabled people with no clinical justification and which at every stage has forgotten and omitted many of us whose lives are at greatest risk of the virus. The extraordinary speed of the UK’s vaccination programme has been fantastic - but we must not allow the system to fail those who need it the most.
Therefore we ask you to implement some key policies to make sure that those of us who are vulnerable, either through disability or chronic illness, will not be left behind yet again:
- Provide clear, easily accessible guidance on what process to follow if you have been told to shield by a medical professional (category 4) but are not on the official shielding list.
- Commit to providing financial, practical and employment support to all those shielding, including the almost 2 million shielders added to the list on the 16th February.
- Set up a dedicated number or website where those who have concerns about their condition and the potential risks of the vaccine can find relevant information that is accessible and updated regularly with new findings.
- Guarantee that those with underlying health conditions that are not considered ‘severe’ will be vaccinated ahead of the general public. This category would include anyone who is invited to have a flu jab due to their condition, as initially communicated, as well as those with a serious mental illness, those with mild to moderate learning disabilities, and anyone receiving social care.
- Provide facilities for all vaccinations offered to disabled or chronically ill people to be carried out close to home, if needed. It is simply not possible for many to travel miles to a mass vaccination centre, often on public transport, and stand in line as they wait.
We also ask that as the vaccine is rolled out, disabled people are included in the planning and communication of each phase. It is clear that we have not been considered due to a real lack of any disabled people in decision-making positions.
Freya Papworth, Co-Chair of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Amanda Carter-Philpott, Co-Chair of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, Deputy Leader of the Women's Equality Party and Committee Member of the Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, GLA Women's Equality Party Candidate and Committee Member of the Women’s Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Helen Berrie, Secretary of the Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Alison Smith, Secretary to the Women's Equality Steering Committee and Committee Member of the Women's Equality Party Disability and Long Term Health Conditions Caucus
Rebecca Manson Jones, GLA Women's Equality Party Candidate and Equal Health Spokesperson for the Women's Equality Party
Baroness Jane Campbell, disability equality and human rights campaigner and crossbench member of the House of Lords
Sophie Christiansen CBE, Paralympic Equestrian Gold Medalist and disability campaigner
Ann Bates OBE, former advisor to the Department for Transport
Sue Groves MBE, disability rights campaigner
Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet
Andrew Miller MBE, Co-founder, UK Disability Arts Alliance #WeShallNotBeRemoved
Samantha Renke, broadcaster and disability campaigner
Ruth Madeley, actor and disability campaigner
Rosie Jones, comedian
Athena Stevens, Olivier-nominated actor and playwright
Dr Frances Ryan, journalist
Rachel Charlton-Dailey, journalist
Tracey Lazard, CEO, Inclusion London
Linda Burnip, Co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts
Kirsty Hoyle, CEO, Transport for All
Katie Pennick, disability activist and Campaigns Lead, Transport for All
Maria Grazia Zedda, Accessibility Lead, HS2
Anthony Jennings, Campaign for Level Boarding
Sunil Rodger, Campaign for Level Boarding
Chris Stapleton, Campaign for Level Boarding
Doug Paulley, disability activist
Ginny Butcher, disability activist
Sarah Rennie, activist and lawyer
Shani Dhanda, disability specialist and speaker
Shona Louise, disability and theatre blogger
Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, social media personality
Cathy Kamara, social media personality
Joe Wells, comedian
Carrie-Ann Lightley, disability blogger
Heather Lacey, disability rights activist, D&I writer, speaker and consultant
Liz Devlin, disability campaigner
David Alexander Williamson, sportsperson and fundraiser
Dr. Katherine Deane, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Research, University of East Anglia
Rick Hulse, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, The National Association for Bikers with a Disability
Marian Nicholson, The Shingles Support Society
Ernie Boddington, Chair of MKCIL
Tim Davies, CEO of Camphill Communities Milton Keynes
Cathy Maker, Chief Executive of RUILS
Mandu Reid, Leader of the Women's Equality Party
Helen Pankhurst, Convenor, Centenary Action Group
Clare Walton, CEO Community Action MK
Mark Fowles, MD, Nottingham City Transport
Richard Solly, Diversity Officer, TVP
Alexa Wilkinson, Chair, Works For Us
Marion Cole, CEO, Works For Us
Sue Payne, Secretary, Soroptimist International MK
Gillian Bryan, MK Fawcett Society
Jane Whild, MK WEP Branch Leader
* N.B. We appreciate that key workers such as those within the NHS, carers, supermarket workers and refuse collectors are at a higher risk due to their occupation and so do not consider these people to be in the ‘general public’ category.