Labour pledges to tackle violence against women as it accuses government of 'failing' victims

·2-min read

Labour has published proposals to combat violence against women and girls, saying ministers were failing to protect victims.

The party accused the government of "treating victims of violence as an afterthought" because Boris Johnson's administration is yet to publish its own strategy in response to wave of allegations that emerged in the wake of the MeToo movement and Sarah Everard's killing earlier this year.

Last week, the government set out its legislative agenda in the Queen's speech, pledging that "proposals would be brought forward" but failed to set out details.

Now the Labour Party has put together a policy paper outlining how it would toughen sentences for rape, stalking and domestic murder, and review all sentences for domestic abuse.

Other proposals include:

• Whole-life tariffs for those who rape, abduct and murder a stranger

• Prohibiting street harassment

• Making misogyny a hate crime

• Banning sex-for-rent

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said seven in 10 women say the government's efforts to make the UK safer for women are lacking.

He added: "The Conservatives are failing to protect women and girls from violent criminals, which should be one of the first duties of any government.

"With record low conviction rates for perpetrators of sexual violence and an epidemic of misogyny that makes women and girls feel unsafe, this government is treating victims of violence as an afterthought."

The proposals also include bringing in custodial sentences for breaches of anonymity for an accuser of a sexual offence and introducing a survivor's support package to improve court experiences.

The killing of Ms Everard while she was walking home from a friend's flat in March has put Mr Johnson under pressure to act.

But the prime minister has not yet published a strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.

Victoria Atkins, the government's safeguarding minister, said a strategy would be published "later this year" and will take into account "hundreds of thousands of responses" from a consultation with the public.

"Violence against women and girls is an abhorrent crime that this government is doing everything in its power to address," she said.

"Our landmark Domestic Abuse Act strengthens protections for victims, whilst also tackling perpetrators at the earliest stage to ensure they feel the full force of the law."

But Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said: "There have been too many warm words and far too little action from this government."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Protecting women and girls from violence and abuse is a key priority for the government.

"The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will make sure that serious sexual offenders - including rapists - spend longer behind bars.

"It will also further strengthen the regime for managing those who pose a risk of sexual harm, including by improving preventative tools such as sexual harm prevention and sexual risk orders."

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