London, 15 March 2021 – Liberty and freedom aren’t values belonging to Britain anymore.
At few days from the brutal murder of the 33 years old Sarah Everard at the hands of a MET police officer and after the violent intervention of police at the vigil for the victim in Clapham Common on Saturday, the Conservative government is trying to approve the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: the bill is to be considered as a substantial eradication of those civil liberties Britain has been regarded as a democracy around the world.
If the bill is passed, the MET police will be able to fine or arrest not just groups, but also a single person protesting and making noise with a fine of £2,500 even if the protest is peaceful.
The new law also sets ‘noise’ as a partial and ambiguous parameter applying its limits to a wide range of circumstances, practically making the intervention of police always justifiable and allowing officers to break down events based on their sound impact.
That means many of the democratic and impactful protests we have seen over the last years would no longer take place under the new law.
Another jaw dropping article of the Bill increases penalties from three months to 10 years detention for damages to public heritage and memorial: for instance the symbolic removal of the slave trader statue of Edward Colston in Bristol during the BLM protest will be classified as a serious crime.
This sounds unbelievable when we think that a man who strangled his wife during lockdown because, he said, was ‘depressed’, was given five years sentence.
The second reading at the House of Commons comes right at the moment of the maximum public anger and distrust towards the police for the kidnap and violent murder of a young woman who believed to be safe walking home alone at 9.30 in the evening and instead has been attacked and assassinated by a police officer, one of those supposed to protect her.
Mounting anger against the MET officers after the non justified brake-in during the vigil: police stopped a speaker, started to hand cuff and arrest some women, also pinning down one of them.
The Labour party and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for an investigation on that and its report to be published. Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called for the MET police chief Cressida Dick to resign, but she said in a statement will remain on duty: “What happened makes me more determined, not less, to lead my organisation”.
Over these hours lawmakers, MPs, solicitors, human rights lawyers and representatives of charities and movements working to defend women from violence are the daily interviews on media: males, not women, have to change, certainty of justice, effective report from police, safety in the streets, education in the family and at school since early years, and the necessity to link in one chain of violence all stages of violence against women and girls: verbal banter, bullying, systematic humiliation and relegation to lower roles, discrimination, hampering of career paths, economic violence, marginalisation from groups unless introduced and ‘protected’ by a men, physical attack, sexual harassment, forced marriage, forced prostitution, pornography, rape, murder.
For the first time much of the long due attention is given to the role of media and internet in generating violence, prejudice and objectification of women and making desire for stereotyped bodies and always beautiful ad available women materialise in a reality that does not actually exist and therefore generates frustration. TV, movies, websites, availability of pornography are finally put into question.
Also thrillers, horror movies and TV series play a big part in generating male violence against women and girls. Censorship is an issue, but this matter should be examined carefully as it is not right to make audience and money from contents which generate violence, one thing that broadcasters and producers know very well.
The figures from Metropolitan police and the Crown Prosecution Service rape and sexual offences in London increased by 25% between 2015 and 2020. More than 500,000 cases are waiting to be heard in magistrates and crown courts in England and less than 3% of all cases reported has been prosecuted.