Sadiq Khan to promise steps to fight violence against women and girls

Trevor Marshallsea, PA
·3-min read

Sadiq Khan has pledged to boost measures to combat violence against women and girls if returned as London’s mayor next month.

In the wake of anti-violence protests following the death of Sarah Everard, whose body was found after she disappeared while walking home in south London, Mr Khan will announce a manifesto package aimed at ensuring all women and girls always “are safe and feel safe” in the capital.

Mr Khan will also direct attention to the attitudes of men towards women and girls as he unveils his plans while insisting “men simply must change”.

“It breaks my heart that so many women and girls do not feel safe in our country on a daily basis. And let’s be honest – these problems are caused by the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours of men,” Mr Khan said in a statement.

London Mayoral election
Sadiq Khan has promised to improve efforts to make women and girls feel safe at all times in London (Stefan Rousseau/AP)

“The problem is not just with the minority of men who are violent, the problem is also with those men who are sexist, continue to behave inappropriately around women, perpetuate a toxic form of masculinity or just stand by silently when women feel threatened or are being threatened. Men simply must change.

“I promise to spearhead the change we desperately need to see in the way women and girls are treated in every single part of our society and at all ages.”

Mr Khan said he would do all in his power to ensure women and girls felt safe, starting “by refreshing London’s strategy to tackle violence against women and girls and implementing a host of new measures”.

“This will be at the very heart of my plans to build a brighter future for London after the pandemic,” he said.

Sarah Everard death
Graffiti on an air-raid shelter near Clapham in memory of Sarah Everard, whose death has prompted a tide of outrage over violence against women and girls (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Khan pledged to “build on” London’s pioneering violence against women and girls (VAWG) strategy if re-elected, and to strive to repair the “low level of confidence many women and girls have in the criminal justice system when reporting harassment and abuse”, the Labour mayor’s campaign said in a statement.

“Building on the success of the Women’s Night Safety Charter – which includes practical guides for organisations to help improve women’s safety – Sadiq will campaign for sexual harassment to be made a crime in public places,” the statement continued, adding Mr Khan had approved the investment of more than £1.5 million during the pandemic to provide safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse.

Mr Khan will announce his proposals on a visit to a Newham pharmacy, where staff are trained to provide a safe space to people experiencing or who are at risk of domestic violence.

He is also expected to pledge to invest in “ground-breaking initiatives” to reform the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic abuse and work to prevent these “horrific crimes”, while also advocating relationship education for primary pupils and sex education for secondary pupils.

Mr Khan will also commit to working with police on encouraging abuse and rape victims to come forward, and on improving conviction rates, while also promising measures to “empower women to be active at night” including “safer routes for walking and cycling, working with local authorities on plans to improve lighting in public spaces as a means of ‘designing out’ crime and ensuring Londoners can get around the city safely and securely”.