Sheffield’s Labour MPs are to vote against the new Police Bill being debated in The House of Commons today, following the cancellation of the women’s rights vigils across the UK.
The ‘Reclaim Sheffields Streets’ vigil, which was due to be held last Saturday at Devonshire Green, was cancelled with confirmation from South Yorkshire Police that those attending could face fines and arrest.
The peaceful event, inspired by the ‘Reclaim These Streets’ vigil in London, was being held to commemorate the death of Sarah Everard.
It also aimed to create a safe space for women in Sheffield’s streets, and promoted the women’s liberation movements which have recently gained much traction.
The organisers, who have chosen to stay anonymous, said: “We are heartbroken and angered by this response.
“The fact that the police cannot see the legitimate reasons why women need to take a public stand against violence is shameful.”
Following this, Home Secretary Priti Patel has introduced a new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would hand more proactive powers to the police during any future protests.
Many MPs around Sheffield have expressed disdain for this bill, as it may restrict the freedom to protest.
MP for Sheffield Hallam, Olivia Blake, said that the police intervention of the peaceful vigils was “shocking”.
She said that she will be voting against the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, along with her labour colleagues.
Ms Blake also spoke up about her own experiences with sexual harassment, explaining how she was lifted off her feet by men whilst on the way to work and has been “constantly touched without permission.”
This is unfortunately not an isolated issue.
The Sheffield Tab, a student-based news site, recently conducted a poll via Instagram where it was found that over 75% of Sheffield students had been sexually harassed or assaulted.
59% of these incidents happened in Sheffield.
If you need any support for sexual harassment, please contact any of the services below:
Sheffield Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre– 01142412766
LifeCentre- 08088020808 (freephone) or 07717989022 (textline)