Closed petition Make sexual harassment a specific criminal offence

On the 10th March, the Guardian posted the results of a YouGov poll of British women and girls showing that almost all young women in the UK have been sexually harassed.

Only by enacting legal change can we end this blight on women’s lives.

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Among women aged 18-24, 97% said they had been sexually harassed, while 80% of women of all ages said they had experienced sexual harassment in public spaces.

Many girls, and their parents, do not feel able to report harassment due to a lack of clarity in the law. There is no specific offence of sexual harassment in UK law, meaning perpetrators can all too often get away with it.

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MPs investigate violence against women and girls

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee are looking at how violence against women and girls is being addressed, and are specifically exploring the investigation and prosecution of rape.

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Read about the Home Affairs Committee's overarching inquiry into violence against women and girls:

Find out more about their work into the investigation and prosecution of rape:

Last week the Committee held the first evidence session of its inquiry into violence against women, where it heard from experts who are working to inform government at the national and local level, and from domestic abuse charities.

Find out more about this session:

Read a transcript of the session:
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work: @CommonsHomeAffs

What is the Home Affairs Committee?

The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs known as a 'select committee' which scrutinises the policy, administration and spending of the Home Office. The Committee is independent of the Government.
Find out more about the Committee:
Find out how select committees work:

Government announces new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls

On Wednesday 21 July, MPs questioned Victoria Atkins, the Minister for Safeguarding, on the Government's newly published Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, following a ministerial statement.

In her statement, the Minister set out the actions the Government will be taking in response to the issue of violence against women and girls, including a national communications campaign focused on targeting harmful misogynistic attitudes, educating young people about healthy relationships, and ensuring that victims can access support. She also announced the launch of a £5 million 'safety of women at night' fund.

Watch the Government statement and MPs' questions:

Read the transcript:

Read the Government press release on the launch of the Strategy:

Other actions set out in the strategy include a review of options to limit use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment in higher education, the appointment of a new national policing lead on violence against women and girls as well as two new violence against women and girls Transport Champions, and plans to criminalise so-called 'virginity testing'.

The Minister's statement also thanked the over 180,000 respondents to the public call for evidence on this issue, which she said had helped shape the Government's approach. It also confirmed the Government plans to publish a dedicated domestic abuse strategy later this year.

What is a ministerial statement?

Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of MPs, often at short notice. You can find out more about them here:

Ministers are the MPs and members of the House of Lords who are in the Government. They are appointed by the Prime Minister and each given a specific area of government policy to oversee, for example education, health and social care, or national defence.

Some senior Ministers are also referred to as Secretaries of State. Ministers speak on behalf of the Government during parliamentary debates and must answer questions put to them by other MPs or members of the House of Lords.