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Friday Apr 09 2021
By
Web Desk

London Mayor Sadiq Khan aims to criminalise sexual harassment in the public space

By
Web Desk

  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan wishes to "make sexual harassment in the public space a criminal offence".
  • Says "small minority of men are causing a lot of problems, but actually, a lot of men sometimes can temper their behaviour and make you feel safer".
  • Says boys should be taught "much better around relationships, around sex education, around respect for girls and women".


London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for a greater conversation around the behaviour of men, while promising that when he is re-elected as mayor, he will criminalise sexual harassment in the public space.

In a recent question-and-answer session with Elle UK, wherein citizens of London put forth their concerns, Sadiq Khan said he thinks "it's really important to address the behaviour of men".

"I think, you know, men simply must change. A small minority of men are causing a lot of problems, but actually, a lot of men sometimes can temper their behaviour and make you feel safer," he added.

Khan — who launched the London Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) back in March 2019 — talked about the various initiatives, as well as efforts to build on existing ones, he would take if he gets reelected as the mayor in May 2021.

Target 'the behaviour of men and boys'

A "proud feminist", the London mayor said he wishes to "make sexual harassment in the public space a criminal offence".

"I've got lots of policies in relation to keeping women safe and supporting women [but] I think we've got to spend as much time targeting the behaviour of men and boys," he said while responding to a question by a woman.

Grazia Daily/via Geo.tv

"We should be teaching boys, in particular, much better around relationships, around sex education, around respect for girls and women. I think it's good to start there."

Read more: Protesters storm roads in London after police officer gets charged with woman's murder

Khan's comments were especially important since they come a month after the March 3 death of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, a case in which Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged for kidnapping and murder.

Police had discovered Everard’s body in a builder’s refuse bag in woodland about 80 kilometres southeast of London. It was identified using dental records.

Everard’s murder had also sparked protests, with women sharing personal experiences of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault by men in public spaces.

'Men simply must change'

Khan, the mayor of London, had said in a statement earlier he was heartbroken "that so many women and girls do not feel safe in our country on a daily basis".

"And let’s be honest - these problems are caused by the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours of men."

Khan also spoke to Grazia Daily, underlining and explaining his pledges that also include lobbying for better rape conviction rates and a better system of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in public transport at night.

"Measures to empower women to be active at night will also be introduced," the publication, citing a press release, wrote.

"The problem is not just with the minority of men who are violent, the problem is also with those men who are sexist, continue to behave inappropriately around women, perpetuate a toxic form of masculinity or just stand by silently when women feel threatened or are being threatened. Men simply must change," he said.

Responding to questions put forward by the publication, the London mayor said the independent victim’s commissioner, Claire Waxman, "discovered that 6% of allegations reach trial but only 3% lead to a conviction".

Ensure 'women aren’t suffering in silence'

Khan said he was supporting her recommendations following the research that include "supporting more independent sexual violence advisors (ISVOs)".

These also include "making sure that the police and CPS don’t go on what is called a 'fishing expedition' by going through their ancient phone history to be used against them in a trial".

He lamented how women were changing their behaviour too often due to men's attitudes, which is why he emphasised more on the latter.

"Simple things like when you’re walking down the road at night time and a woman happens to be in front of you, be cognitive and understand that you could be making that woman feel uncomfortable and unsafe because you’re behind her," he said, sharing advice.

"We’ve got to make sure that women aren’t suffering in silence and they have the confidence and support to come forward."