MP proposes a new law to ban sex-based harassment in public

MP proposes a new law to ban sex-based harassment in public

The Tunbridge Wells MP was one of 20 parliamentarians chosen to present a Private Members Bill to the House of Commons last week after a ballot of 460 MPs who all wanted to get their own laws introduced.

Private Members Bills are legislation that is proposed by bankbench MPs and members of the Lords who are not ministers rather than the government.

Mr Clark’s ‘Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill’ is set for a reading before parliament on December 9.

The bill will effectively outlaw harassment of women and girls in public, such as making it a criminal offence to deliberately follow and intimidate females walking through the streets or making explicit, abusive comments at them.

It could even see catcalling and wolf-whistling made a criminal offence.

Speaking to the Times after presenting the bill last Wednesday (June 15), Mr Clark said: “I was honoured to present my Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons today.

“Over the years I have met with many girls and women in my constituency who have had to put up with harassment on the streets – from being deliberately followed and intimidated in walking through the streets at night to having explicit, abusive comments directed at them.

“Girls and women should not have to put up with that, but too often they do.

“There is currently no offence of sexual harassment in public places, whereas sexual harassment in the workplace is specifically prohibited, and other types of harassment, such as harassment in public on racial grounds or because of someone’s disability, are – rightly – specified as being especially serious.

“My Bill will close the gap by specifying an offence of deliberate harassment in public places based on someone’s sex.

“This is an important change to the law and the Bill will be drafted to reflect the outcome of a Public Consultation which the Government has committed to launch before the summer recess.

“The Home Office will now begin this shortly, completed in good time to inform the detailed drafting of the Bill before its Second Reading on 9 December.

“For too long women and girls have had to endure deliberate harassment, alarm and distress when going about their lives with inadequate protection from the law.

“If it is approved by Parliament, my Bill will be a partial but significant step to providing greater security to them.”

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