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Violence against women and girls is ‘endemic’ in the UK, concludes report

Fawcett Society finds that legal system is failing women

A report released by the Fawcett Society has found that violence against women and girls is 'endemic' in the UK. It considers that the legal system is failing women and needs fundamental reform. The report is the conclusion of the Fawcett Society's Sex Discrimination Law Review (SDLR) Panel.

The SDLR Panel was made up of a team of legal experts and chaired by Dame Laura Cox, DBE, a retired High Court Justice. It was set up to review the UK's sex discrimination laws in response to the risk that long-established rights could be eroded or weakened as a result of Brexit and leaving the EU single market. It also considered the effectiveness of current laws and how best to balance the rights of the individual with the responsibilities of the organisation.

The report, which the Fawcett Society says is the first of its kind, calls for a number of specific changes to the legal system. These include extending the definition of coercive control to include after a couple have separated, making any breach of a domestic abuse order a criminal offence, making 'up-skirting' an offence, making misogyny a hate crime, strengthening the laws on sexual harassment at work to protect women from harassment by third parties, and extending protection from pregnancy discrimination to 6 months after maternity leave ends.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:

"What we see is a deeply misogynistic culture where harassment and abuse are endemic and normalised coupled with a legal system that lets women down because in many cases it doesn't provide access to justice."

Dame Laura Cox, Chair of the Review Panel added:

"The evidence we received, of increasing levels of violence, abuse and harassment against women, was deeply disturbing. A lack of access to justice for such women has wide-ranging implications not only for the women themselves, but also for society as a whole and for public confidence in our justice system."

The report found that:

For the report, click here. For an executive summary, click here.