UK vows crackdown on threats against women

Photo: AFP

London, United Kingdom | Britain's justice secretary said Wednesday he wanted to put the "fear of God" into those who threaten women and that restoring women's faith in the legal system was his "top priority" following a string of high-profile murders in London.

Dominic Raab said he was "shocked and horrified" by the recent killings of several women, including one who was murdered by a serving police officer, calling the scale of violence "sickening".

"For many, the fear of being out alone after dark, or that they may be beaten in their own home, is a grim everyday reality," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"We must turn that situation around. I want us to give those women back the confidence to live life without having to look anxiously over their shoulder, and instil the fear of God into the minds of anyone who would contemplate threatening a woman or girl."

According to official figures in England and Wales, in the year to March 2020 around 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse, more than 600,000 were sexually assaulted and almost 900,000 were stalked.

The government is scrapping the automatic halfway release for serious sexual offences and introducing closer monitoring of how well the police and prosecutors are tackling rape and sexual violence.

Victims of common assault involving domestic abuse will get two years to report the crime -- up from a current six-month time limit.

Raab, who is also Britain's deputy prime minister, warned there was "no single silver bullet" to solve the problem and it needed to be tackled "at every level" of society.

- Park killings -

Police and prosecutors are working together to prevent the scrutiny of those reporting rape "eclipsing the proper focus on investigating the suspect", he added.

Victims are also being given the option of pre-recording their evidence when their case goes to trial.

The disappearance of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, as she walked home in south London in March 2021 sparked renewed anger and concern about women's safety.

A serving Metropolitan Police officer was sentenced to life imprisonment for her kidnap, rape and murder.

Everard's murder came nearly a year after two sisters, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, were stabbed to death by a man in a Satanic-inspired attack in a northwest London park.

Police were criticised for not initially taking the case seriously and two officers were jailed for taking unauthorised photographs at the crime scene and sharing them with colleagues on WhatsApp.

In September 2021, teacher Sabina Nessa was found dead in another park, in the southwest of the British capital. A man has since been charged with her murder.

© Agence France-Presse

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