Action and education is needed to tackle the level of harassment women and girls face in the street, according to an SNP MP who has spoken out about her experiences of abuse.
Hannah Bardell told the SNP conference about numerous incidents of harassment she has faced over the year, including being flashed and followed by a man in a park while she was on a run aged 15, and a driving instructor allegedly trying to grope her when she was 17.
The Livingston MP also revealed that more recently a man had yelled “vile and homophobic abuse” at her and a girlfriend as they walked through an Edinburgh park hand-in-hand.
Ms Bardell made the disclosure while speaking in favour of a motion calling for the inclusion of street harassment by a working group examining whether to make misogynistic abuse a standalone offence in Scots Law.
She told the conference: “It started when I was 15 and it hasn’t stopped.
“I know that these incidents are not exceptional and I’m by no means the exception, this is life as a girl or a women in almost every country in the world.
“In many countries, it’s far worse, but it’s not a race to the bottom.
“Instead, it should be a race to stop harassment and violence against women and girls which pervades our lives and impacts us every single day of every single week.”
Suggesting “action and education” was needed to tackle the problem, Ms Bardell continued: “Across the world, 137 women a day are killed by their male partner.
“Not all men are the problem but all men have a role and an opportunity to be part of the solution.
“It’s crucial to involve men in the conversation and in the action because it affects them too – toxic masculinity creates a hostile environment for men and boys, as well as women and girls.
“And it’s no coincidence that the rate of male suicide and murder of men on our streets is so high.
“The sooner we take action, the sooner we will live in a society that respects and cherishes all of our citizens and their right to live freely and without fear of running at night or just walking home.”
Proposing the motion, which was passed by 398 votes to two, Edinburgh delegate Sally Donald told the conference that she suffered street harassment “relentlessly”.
She said: “These experiences are a daily occurrence for me and 97% of women in the UK. We live our lives in fear, always praying that the man who harasses us will do only that and not rape or murder us, as as we have seen happen far too many times.
“Women have been taught to do all we can to prevent violence against us, but the time for blaming us is over.”
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