Barbaric 'virginity testing' to be outlawed and 24-hour rape hotline to launch


The criminalisation of ‘virginity testing’, a 24-hour rape helpline and a “Safety of Women at Night” fund are all proposed under new plans to better protect women.

The government has announced plans to protect women and girls on the street, at home, and online, after widespread safety concerns in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder.

The plans are set to be published by Home Secretary Priti Patel, on Wednesday.

She said: “The safety of women and girls across the country, wherever they are, is an absolute priority for me.

“It is unacceptable that women and girls are still subject to harassment, abuse, and violence, and I do not accept that violence against women and girls is inevitable.

“I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.



Priti Patel
It comes after widespread concern over violence aimed at women

“This strategy, shaped by the responses of those who bravely came forward and shared their stories and experiences, will deliver real and lasting change.”

Among the proposed measures is the creation of a new national policing lead to ensure best practice among forces and improve the response times to such crimes.

The strategy also seeks to criminalise so-called virginity testing, described by MPs as a “medieval” practice.

It also sets out a commitment to appoint two new so-called “Violence Against Women and Girls Transport Champions”, which the Government said will “drive forward positive change and tackle the problems faced by female passengers on public transport”.

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Further pledges include the Ministry of Justice commissioning a 24/7 rape and sexual assault helpline, while the Department for Education will work with the Office for Students to tackle sexual harassment and abuse in higher education, the Government said.

More than 180,000 contributors have helped shaped the strategy, designed to tackle violence against women and girls.

The review is published against a backdrop of dismal conviction rates for rape, despite the number of reported incidents on the rise.

The case of Sarah Everard, who was murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens near Clapham Common in March, also prompted mass demonstrations about women’s safety.

And the Everyone’s Invited website also highlighted allegations of a “rape culture” in education settings.

Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, said it was “very disappointed” the strategy does not include new legislation on public sexual harassment.

She said: “Without a new law, millions of girls will be left unprotected.

“However, the Government has recognised that this is an urgent issue that needs more attention.

“We urge the Government to quickly deliver its promise to review gaps in the legislation – and then it must commit to a new Public Sexual Harassment Law.”

Shadow home office minister Jess Phillips, said: “The services and support required to end violence against women and girls cannot run on warm words alone. How are we in a situation where we have better protections for statues than for women?

Labour has set out a wealth of proposals to tackle Violence Against Women’s and Girls but the Tories are dragging their feet. The Government should step up to the plate and take action rather than more warm words.”

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