Tue, Jul 24, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Brexit poses threat to UK women’s rights: report

EMPOWERMENT:The government must ensure there is no rowing back on equality and human rights protections as a result of Brexit, the report said

The Guardian

Women in the UK risk losing hard-won equality and human rights protections, including employment rights and funding for women’s services, when the UK leaves the EU, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said in a report yesterday.

In its largest review of women’s rights in the UK, the commission said that although the British government has promised that protections in the UK Equality Act will continue to apply once the UK leaves the bloc, “this political commitment is not included” in the EU withdrawal bill.

Brexit could mean future equality and human rights protections under the EU are not binding in UK law and that existing ones might be removed, the report said.

“Employment rights and funding for women’s services are areas of particular concern,” it said.

It recommends that the government should make sure “there is no regression in the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights” and that the loss of EU funding “does not undermine the UK’s equality and human rights infrastructure, including the already scarce funding available to specialist services, such as those that support women survivors of violence and domestic abuse.”


The report said women are still being failed in many areas of life and more action is needed to better protect women and girls from violence.

“[I]t is estimated that only 15 percent of survivors of sexual violence report their experience to the police, and social movements such as #MeToo continue to shine a spotlight on areas where women are being failed,” commission chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said. “The priority must now be ensuring that women and girls of all ages can enjoy their basic right to feel safe in their everyday lives.”

The report said that a dearth of quality data makes tackling discrimination more difficult amid “the sometimes serious and extreme consequences of women’s inequality.”

It said there is inequality in politics, the legal sphere, the workplace, leadership of public and private organizations, while there is violence women face at home and in the public sphere.

The report said that women are underrepresented in democratic structures. While women now make up a record 32 percent of members of parliament in the UK House of Commons, the nation ranked only 39th globally. Just 4 percent of members of parliament are ethnic minority women.

“Poor public perceptions of politics and the intimidation of parliamentarians are major barriers to participation,” the report said.

Women made up 45.5 percent of all public appointments and reappointments in 2016 and last year, up from 39.3 percent in 2013, but only 28 percent of chairs of public bodies were women, while only 27.7 percent of board members in FTSE 100 companies were women.

The report said violence against woman and girls is an issue. Last year, 145,397 sexual offenses were recorded by police in England and Wales, an increase of 25 percent compared with the previous year.

Only about 15 percent of survivors of sexual violence go to the police, but statistics show that an estimated 1.9 million adults in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse during the year ending March 2017, of which 1.2 million were women and 0.7 million were men.

Police receive an average of 100 calls about domestic abuse every hour, it said.

Changes to legal aid have also had a significant effect on women, the report said.

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