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Webchat with Victoria Atkins MP, Home Office Minister for Safeguarding and Extremism, on Thursday 11th February at 11am.
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JuliaMumsnet · 09/02/2021 12:00

Hello.

We’re pleased to announce a webchat with Victoria Atkins, Home Office Minister for Safeguarding and Extremism, on Thursday 11 February at 11am.

Victoria Atkins is the Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office. She was previously Minister for Women from 2018 to 2020.

As Minister for Safeguarding, her responsibilities include domestic abuse, violence against women and girls (including FGM and forced marriage), child sexual abuse, stalking, prostitution, sexual violence including the rape review, and early youth intervention on serious violence.

The Home Office is launching a nationwide call for evidence to inform the government’s new Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. They are urging members of the public, especially women, to fill in the short online survey to share their experiences and views on the issue which will be reflected in the VAWG strategy, to be published in March.

As well as the public survey, the Home Office is setting up focused discussions with a range of representatives from the sector, and has involved charities in directly engaging with victims to gather their views. The new VAWG strategy will help the government to tackle these crimes and to increase the understanding, and ability to tackle, emerging forms of violence against women and girls such as upskirting and revenge porn.

Please join us here on Thursday at 11am. If you can’t join us on the day, please leave your question here in advance.

As always, please remember our webchat guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

Webchat with Victoria Atkins MP, Home Office Minister for Safeguarding and Extremism, on Thursday 11th February at 11am.
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GCAcademic · 09/02/2021 12:13

Hello Victoria.

My question is about the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act. Leaving organisations such as domestic violence refuges to take their own position on this means that they are susceptible to external pressure or policy capture from (often aggressive) lobby groups whose priority is not the safety of women. Like many other women on here, I would like to see the government take a clear position on the kinds of places where vulnerable and traumatised women can have the right to safety and recovery in single-sex spaces. We have already seen women on here who are not accessing facilities because the providers cannot guarantee that they will not (e.g.) be sharing sleeping space with male strangers. Does the government have any concrete plans to strengthen the provisions for single-sex services in the Equality Act?

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chestnutSquash · 09/02/2021 12:28

I am increasingly uneasy about the amount of really awful things being posted on social media, including rape and death threats on twitter, conversations between paedophiles in chat rooms, grooming by extremists on facebook. There are always positive aspects to social media but what will/ can the government do to make these companies do something about this?

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BuntingEllacott · 09/02/2021 12:42

Hi Victoria,

As a minister with Safeguarding as explicitly part of your remit, I'm interested to hear how you plan to strengthen and reinforce the existing safeguarding frameworks that have developed as we've learned more about how persistent and devious predators can be. While I welcome your engagement with survivors like myself, I really would like to see firm commitments and action to prevent abuse before it occurs. It seems to me the lack of education about what safeguarding is, and even subtle or overt attempts to undermine it, form the basis for many of the threats to the welfare of women and children today.

Thanks in advance for your answer.

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Cismyfatarse · 09/02/2021 13:15

I am concerned about the access to extreme porn and how this feeds into sexual violence - choking, slapping, using abusive language.

I am old enough to remember cases such as James Bulger where the murderers were influenced by violent films. What is being done to protect children so they don't learn abusive behaviour, or expect abusive behaviour because of sites such as PornHub.

Thanks

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NonCisWoman · 09/02/2021 13:21

I am a trainee secondary school teacher.

I am extremely concerned about some of the ideologies that are being taught in secondary schools.

In some schools, girls are being taught that they are expected to share single-sex spaces with males, if the male identifies as trans. For example, a male child can use a female bathroom/ changing room if he simply claims to be female. In some schools, girls are being told that they mustn't question this.

Therefore, girls are being taught to undress in front of boys without question, and if they do question it, they're labeled as bigoted. From a safeguarding perspective, this rings alarm bells to me, but as a trainee, I'm scared to question it.

My question is this: how, as a trainee teacher, should I question and challenge schools that allow male-bodied children in female spaces?

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Sacreblue · 09/02/2021 13:22

I’d like to know what provision is being put in place to address the core source of VAWG - male perpetrators - both in preventing them becoming perpetrators in the first place and tackling the vanishing investigation, conviction and jail terms of existing perpetrators.

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persistentwoman · 09/02/2021 13:48

Numerous parents have discovered that political lobby groups are actively undermining Working Together / safeguarding by advising schools that they can "transition" children in secret from their parents. Only the Courts can remove parental rights, yet this is happening repeatedly. The example below is from Cornwall's "Schools Transgender Guidance" and demonstrates why schools mistakenly believe that they have the authority to remove parental rights:

A parent or guardian may not always be the most supportive or appropriate person to assist the young person through transitioning. It may not be necessary for a parent or guardian to provide permission for a Trans pupil or student to take steps to transition as there may be issues raised of Fraser competence if parents will not consent (page 18)

Will the government issue advice to schools to remind them that the safeguarding guidelines in Working Together about working in partnership with parents are paramount and must never be undermined in this way?

Thank you.

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Dalyesque · 09/02/2021 13:58

I would like to know when male prisoners will be refused access to women’s prisons, when they will not be allowed to change their names via deed poll or self identification. Also when crimes done by men are classified as such and the DBS checks not have a loophole.

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SqeakyHindge · 09/02/2021 13:59

Could you include link to survey please

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JoodyBlue · 09/02/2021 14:51

Hello Victoria,
Recently my workplace introduced a strategy for 2021 to build on its thought leadership in the field of inclusion and diversity. There is clear guidance for employees on the subject of using inclusive language and a requirement to provide data on gender identity. There is quite rightly, an emphasis on non-bullying behaviours in the workplace, however they are framed to be clear that bullying is perceived not as “intent” to bully, rather it is the “perception received” by a fellow staff member.
It is no longer adequate to simply adopt a professional and courteous relationship with work colleagues, since we must now “bring our whole selves to work”. If our whole selves do not conform to a prescribed way of thinking, for example if one doesn’t accept oneself as holding a gender identity then this is potentially a disciplinary problem at work.
Whilst being absolutely clear that I would always support anti-bullying or discrimination policies towards any staff member. The current communications around inclusion and diversity seem to me to themselves be a form of extremism and an attack on freedom of thought in the workplace.
Do you have a view on the increasing silencing of women’s voices at work and in the public sphere in general?

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MichaelMumsnet · 09/02/2021 15:00

@SqeakyHindge

Could you include link to survey please

Here's the info page: Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Call for Evidence

The survey link is part way down the page.
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HaroldMeeker · 09/02/2021 15:13

What is the government doing to increase women and girl's trust in the legal system? I don't trust the legal system to take action against a man who attacks me (any form of attack, but particularly sexual offences) and I know I'm not alone, hence the decrease in women reporting them. It's not that these attacks aren't happening, we just don't see a point in reporting them as we're either not taking seriously, we're victim blamed, or the case does go to court and we're effectively raped/attacked again by a system that is (in my eyes) weighted against us. What do you think it will take to regain the trust of females?

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dapsnotplimsolls · 09/02/2021 15:57

How is the survey being publicised? This is the first time I've seen it.

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happydappy2 · 09/02/2021 16:47

Dear Vicotoria, why is the government giving adult males the legal status of female? When GRCs were introduced they were a get around before same sex marriage was legal-now that same sex marriage is perfectly legal (and we can clearly see the problems of males being classified as female, resulting in men in womens prisons & rape refuges etc.) It would seem a glaringly obvious safeguarding loophole that needs to be closed immediately.

How can we possibly safeguard children and women, when men can gain legal recognition as female, and enter spaces designed to be single sex, for the protection of women and children?

Thank you

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Fallingirl · 09/02/2021 17:00

Dear Victoria,

Do you think women in prostitution are as safe as they need to be?
If not, do you think the Nordic Model is more compatible with safeguarding of women in the sex industry?

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PacificState · 09/02/2021 17:35

Hello

What will you do about the fact that rape has now been effectively decriminalised, as asserted by Dame Vera Baird in the government's own report last year?

She said: “In some cases, we are enabling persistent predatory sex offenders to go on to reoffend in the knowledge that they are highly unlikely to be held to account. This is likely to mean we are creating more victims as a result of our failure to act.”

Are you prepared to exert pressure on the CPS over this?

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Al77 · 09/02/2021 17:51

Dear Victoria,
How can we accurately tell whether crime is perpetrated by and commited against women, if the police are acting on Stonewall's inclusion guidance and recording crimes against self declared gender rather than by sex. Recent statistics show a sudden sharp increase in women committing violent and sexual crimes (as reported on More 4 recently). This seems to correspond with the introduction of a policy of gender self ID by some police forces.

Thankyou

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beargrass · 09/02/2021 17:54

@Al77

Dear Victoria,
How can we accurately tell whether crime is perpetrated by and commited against women, if the police are acting on Stonewall's inclusion guidance and recording crimes against self declared gender rather than by sex. Recent statistics show a sudden sharp increase in women committing violent and sexual crimes (as reported on More 4 recently). This seems to correspond with the introduction of a policy of gender self ID by some police forces.

Thankyou

I would also like to know the answer to this, including how far back we have to go, to be able to rely on crime stats as regards sex of offender, please.
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Al77 · 09/02/2021 17:56

@JuliaMumsnet Would it be possible to move this thread into the wider mumsnet boards as well? (It doesn't seem to be a feminism specific thread) in fact it seems like it would be missing a lot of people with very relevant input.

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ACovidofWitches · 09/02/2021 19:14

I'd like to know Victoria's views on The Holbeck red light district in Leeds. The women there have been totally abandoned and I dread to think what some of them experience night after night - it sounds terrifying.

Will the government act or is the plan to continue to turn a blind eye to what is going on there? How does it sit with you personally as a minister, knowing what some of the most vulnerable women in this country are experiencing there?

Thank you and thank you for coming to talk to us.

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ArabellaScott · 09/02/2021 19:54

Hello, Victoria.

There has recently been a spate of government consultations on issues of great importance to women.

At the same time, women are more squeezed than ever due to the pressures of home schooling, and home working. While I've tried to contribute and really am keen to engage, I am time poor and exhausted.

Can there be more done to make it easier for women to take part in these processes?

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peak2021 · 09/02/2021 19:57

A question for Victoria Atkins-

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has highlighted 'institutional thoughtlessness' in the pandemic response by government and how this has affected women.

Which of their recommendations are you going to seek to implement to help safeguard women and children?

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SakuraLDN · 09/02/2021 21:37

@Al77

Dear Victoria,
How can we accurately tell whether crime is perpetrated by and commited against women, if the police are acting on Stonewall's inclusion guidance and recording crimes against self declared gender rather than by sex. Recent statistics show a sudden sharp increase in women committing violent and sexual crimes (as reported on More 4 recently). This seems to correspond with the introduction of a policy of gender self ID by some police forces.

Thankyou

100% agree with this - we need to be able to rely on accurate data to inform future policies so should be recording natal sex with additional information to track any self identified gender as well
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dotoallasyouwouldbedoneby · 10/02/2021 00:42

Dear Victoria,
Many women of all ages feel their sex-based rights are being abandoned by all UK mainstream parties. The Conservatives seem to have been the least captured to date. Liz Truss has clearly done some valuable work recently. Are your wider MP colleagues aware how many women currently feel politically homeless and would like a party they can rely on to defend their hard won rights and for this commitment to be put in manifestos. Thanks for taking the time.

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Sickoffamilydrama · 10/02/2021 07:55

@PacificState

Hello

What will you do about the fact that rape has now been effectively decriminalised, as asserted by Dame Vera Baird in the government's own report last year?

She said: “In some cases, we are enabling persistent predatory sex offenders to go on to reoffend in the knowledge that they are highly unlikely to be held to account. This is likely to mean we are creating more victims as a result of our failure to act.”

Are you prepared to exert pressure on the CPS over this?

Couldn't have said it better myself I know of one of these offenders who is now getting away with it as he wasn't convicted.

I'm angry you are failing me, my sister, my mother & my daughters, stop glossing over the fact that there's a massive problem of violence against 51% of the population.

Stop allowing yourself to be captured by groups who want to erode women's sex based rights.
Recognise the problem & deal with it from craddle to grave.
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