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Gender Equality, Women's Representation and Tackling Violence

A number of you have contacted me about how we can tackle sexism, improve the representation of women in Parliament and tackle violence against women.  These are very important issues, and while we have made some real progress as a society, there is still a long way to go.

Women have been particularly hard hit by the policies of the last five years.  Labour supports a higher minimum wage, outlawing exploitative zero hours contracts and tackling the pay gap in order to help.

On representation in Parliament, as you will know, Labour pioneered the use of all women shortlists.  Over half our candidates in target seats at the General Election were women and now 43% of Labour MPs are female.

Domestic violence is a massive problem and women's access to legal representation has been affected greatly by the changes in legal aid.  My Shadow Cabinet colleague Sadiq Khan is campaigning to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to obtain support from a lawyer.

Labour supports new laws on domestic violence to prevent abusive partners avoiding prosecution.  A commissioner should be appointed to oversee "national standards" in such cases.  Labour believes that we should find £3m of savings made from abolishing police and crime commissioners to set up a national refuge fund and we will continue national support for rape crisis centres too.

Finally as a society, we need to take action to prevent violence in the next generation by changing attitudes.  That's why we want to see compulsory sex and relationship education to teach zero tolerance of violence in relationships among growing girls and boys.

 

Rt Hon Hilary Benn

MP for Leeds Central

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