'Women should be able to walk down the street without fear': Calls for change following Sarah Everard's death

Wakefield's Conservative group has called for the council to set up a working group looking at harassment against women in the workplace, following the death of Sarah Everard.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:24 am
Vigils have been held across the country for Sarah Everard

Opposition group leader, Coun Nadeem Ahmed, will table a motion on the issue at a full council meeting next week.

The death of 33 year-old Ms Everard, who lived in London but was originally from York, sparked protests in the capital last weekend amid calls for society to do more to end male violence and discrimination against women.

In his motion, which will be debated on Wednesday, Coun Ahmed describes Ms Everard's death as "abhorrent" and calls on the council to appoint a "champion" to speak up for women across the district.

A demonstration was held in Cardiff and other cities across the UK earlier this week.

Speaking about the motion, Coun Ahmed said talking to female friends, family members and school pupils during his time as a teacher had helped inform his views on gender inequality.

"In this day and age, women are still more likely to be discriminated against," he said.

"What I've picked up over time is that people will turn a blind eye to things. That's something that even female members of my own family have told me. We need to change that.

"Women should be able to walk freely down the street without fear of attack or being wolfwhistled at.

Conservative group leader Coun Nadeem Ahmed

"Some people might say that they have equality and that everything's fine for them.

"If that's the case, then good for you, but there are women out there who don't have that. There are still plenty of issues within society that we need to address."

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The motion in full:

This council notes:

The abhorrent circumstances surrounding the case of Sarah Everard, which has shocked residents across this district.

That there are currently hundreds of dedicated officers working night and day to bring the perpetrator to justice.

The need to reassure women and residents across this district that our streets are safe.

That the highly professional and dedicated officers of West Yorkshire Police will continue to serve the public with their unflinching dedication to keeping our residents safe.

The government’s development of a national strategy on tackling sexual violence against women and girls to be published shortly.

That Wakefield Council has zero tolerance towards all forms of harassment

This council supports the government in:

Providing an extra £1,568,000 to tackle serious violent crime across West Yorkshire, including Knife crime and murder.

Instituting a new offence of public sexual harassment to protect women and girls from abuse.

Recruiting an extra 20,000 police officers nationally, with 5,494 now serving West Yorkshire as of October 2020, delivering an increasing police presence on the streets of the Wakefield District.

Introducing new stop and search powers.

Delivering a £45 Million Safer Streets Fund to tackle theft, robberies and burglaries by installing locked gates around alleyways, increased street lighting and CCTV.

This council resolves:

To Instruct the Wakefield Overview and Scrutiny Management Board to set up a working group to review the council’s policies and practices with regards to harassment against women in workplace and to take evidence.

To update any council policies and practices accordingly.

To bring forward any additional measures that they deem appropriate that will further address these matters, in light of the current circumstances.

The council to appoint a councillor champion to act as a voice for “Women in the Workplace” and to speak up on all issues relating to harassment against women.