Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, gave a revealing and frank interview to the Observer this weekend. In it she revealed that taking her seat in Parliament 32 years ago was a very different experience to what today’s female elected MPs might experience. When she was first elected, Parliament was 97% male. “We were very much fish out of water and regarded as intruders in the world of politics. But I think there is now a critical mass of women,” she said.
Of course the House of Commons is still disproportionately made up of men, just 22% of seats are represented by women. While this is a significant improvement even since 1987 when just 41 MPs were women, evidently there is still a huge amount of work to do before any kind of equality is reached.
The opening of the European Parliament took place in Strasbourg last week, and to mark the occasion an orchestra played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the EU’s unofficial anthem. However, in an act of protest UKIP, Led by Nigel Farage, stood with their backs turned while the anthem was played. It was extremely ignorant and disrespectful. However, their display simply served to reiterate that the party doesn’t in any way take its role seriously and is not able to act in anyway as a credible opposition.
Over the weekend it was announced that Police would lose the power to unilaterally “drop” rape investigations, even if they think there is insufficient evidence to proceed, under a Labour government.
The party will tackle the way in which sexual crimes are handled if elected. It was revealed over the weekend that the shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, will announce this week that the Police service will have to get agreement from the Crown Prosecution Service if they wish to end an investigation. Under current rules the Police are not obligated to investigate a case or present it to prosecutors.
The Independent on Sunday revealed: “she hopes the plan would end the culture of rape and sexual violence being an ‘optional’ crime to investigate and help end a ‘culture of defeatism’ where the authorities believe there will never be a large number of rape convictions because it is ‘too difficult’ to prosecute.
I don’t doubt sexual violence is a hugely under-reported crime in the same way that human trafficking is. These crimes are heavily associated with power and control and this would be a significant move towards supporting victims and letting them know that the crime will be properly investigated. Hopefully, with knowledge that they will be believed, this will go some way to encourage more victims to report the crime of which they are a victim.