The national body which reviews laws has recommended that public street harassment (PSH) should be made a specific crime, a great step forward for the campaign, says local councillor and supporter Sam Al-Hamdani.
After successfully getting Oldham Council to back the campaign, the local Liberal Democrat councillor has been working nationally with Our Streets Now to get the issue recognised by councils across the UK, and deliver tailored education in schools to combat harassment.
The Councillor, who is also a White Ribbon Ambassador – a charity challenging male violence against women, was delighted with the news, although he warned that it still has a long way to go before it is on the statute books.
He said: “When I heard the recommendation, I was delighted, although it was tempered by the news that they hadn’t also recommended that misogyny be added to the list of hate crimes.
“I hate that if you have a conversation with any woman about this, without fail they will be able to tell you of a recent time when they have either been harassed or didn’t feel safe. It is vital that this changes, and that this is driven by a cultural change in those who commit the harassment – primarily men.”
If the change is embedded into law, it will be a real triumph for grassroots campaigning, with Our Streets Now being founded by two sisters, Maya and Gemma Tutton, in response to their experiences of harassment.
Councillor Al-Hamdani continued: “I am so impressed by Maya and Gemma, and indeed all the young women who have driven this campaign. I was recently with Maya as she presented the case for change to our Parliamentary group, and I am delighted by the support that there has been from the Liberal Democrats – and other parties – for their work.
“I am really proud of what they have done, and that I have been able to help them target local councils more successfully – Rochdale, Liverpool and Preston are among the other councils in the North West who have signed up.
“There is a long way to go, but this is a great step forward. Every step that is taken to protect women is vital.
The Our Streets Now petition to make Street Harassment a crime is currently approaching half a million signatures. You can sign it at: https://www.change.org/p/make-public-sexual-harassment-a-criminal-offence-in-the-uk
The White Ribbon charity engages with men and boys to end violence against women. Men who wish to make their promise, or to sign up as an ambassador, can do so at www.whiteribbon.org.uk.