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View from City Hall: Marina Ahmed: You need to address men’s behaviour towards women at the earliest stage

he horrific murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman have shaken Londoners, especially women. Since Sarah Everard’s life was taken by a serving police officer seven months ago, at least 80 women have been killed by men, writes Marina Ahmad…

Last week’s sentencing of the perpetrator has provided another wake-up call to the Met Police, the government and local representatives to work together to take the urgent and comprehensive action needed to make our streets safer for women and girls.

I raised this issue with the Deputy Commissioner of the Met Police, Sir Stephen House, at the most recent London Assembly police and crime committee. In response to my questioning, I was pleased to hear him express support for the police to start recording gender-based hate crime.

This would bolster our understanding of how we can more effectively address misogynistic attitudes and clamp down on sexual harassment, stalking and sexual offences. We now need the Home Office to move forward with their plans to trial this in London.

I agree with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, that education and an early intervention approach are both vital, but sometimes overlooked, components in tackling violence against women and girls. The core issue is about men’s behaviour towards women and this needs to addressed at the earliest stage, before boys become men. It should be about prevention and not just cure. One of my focuses at City Hall will be to look at how the government can strengthen the national curriculum and how we can improve public messaging in this area.

On a different matter, the furlough scheme has now come to an end, and since April 2020 it has supported over 62,000 Southwark workers. The pandemic is still very much with us and I have been urging ministers to extend the scheme for specific industries which have struggled to fully reopen, such as the travel and tourism and arts and culture sectors.

The latest government stats show that there were over 11,000 people in Southwark still on furlough at the end of June. Whilst this number would have likely dropped considerably in recent months, there is a strong possibility that many thousands in our community might now be at risk of losing their livelihoods.

With the cruel cut to the £20 weekly uplift in Universal Credit payments, the rise in energy bills and the upcoming increase in National Insurance contributions, the pockets of those on the lowest incomes are being hit by a perfect storm of an inability to pay for basic necessities. Nobody should have to make the choice between eating and putting on the heating.

From City Hall, I will continue to stand up and call for a more robust and generous welfare system to ensure our economic recovery from the pandemic is a fair one.


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