As RightsInfo continues to celebrate International Women’s Day 2016, we look back at some of this year’s women’s rights milestones. Although there is still some way to go before gender parity is achieved, these developments have helped pave the way to a more equal world. Check out our top 10 highlights below.
Rights of Women win landmark case for victims of domestic violence
The Court of Appeal upheld a legal challenge by campaign group Rights of Women. The result is that domestic violence victims no longer have to produce evidence of violence in the two years before they apply for legal aid, a requirement the Court called “arbitrary”. This means many more domestic violence victims are now entitled to free legal assistance.
New law to protect victims of domestic violence
The government introduced a new law protecting victims of controlling psychological behaviour and emotional abuse in relationships. There is no need for the victims to prove physical abuse and, if found guilty, the perpetrator can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. This law recognises that abuse does not need to be only physical to be extremely dangerous.
Tackling the pay gap between men and women
The government is planning to introduce laws forcing employers to publish what they pay male and female employees. This is part of the government’s commitment to tackle the pay gap between men and women and it is hoped that they will come into force by 2018.
Positive action against Female Genital Mutilation
The government continues to take positive action against female genital mutilation (FGM). It accepted the Home Affairs’ Select Committee’s recommendations about making changes in the law to enable successful prosecutions against perpetrators and those failing to report perpetrators. There is now a requirement for professionals to report FGM and an inspection of the police’s response to honour-based violence revealed further changes to be made.
The first prosecution for FGM is brought
Although this prosecution against a doctor was ultimately unsuccessful, it marks a step forward in action taken to protect women against this crime. FGM campaigner Leyla Hussein told the Home Affairs Select Committee that it sent out a very strong message to the practising community that the UK takes FGM very seriously.
Abuse of women in Yarl’s Wood immigration centre revealed
Hundreds of people took part in a public protest against the horrific treatment of women in the Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre. The centre holds 400 women who have committed no crime, most of which are failed asylum seekers. The centre remains open but there is growing pressure on the government to close it down.
New law on modern slavery is passed
The Modern Slavery Act came into force, strengthening protections against slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Remarkably, it also introduced a new obligation on British companies to publish a statement on their websites detailing what steps they are taking to ensure their operations are not reliant on international slavery. Despite criticisms the law is insufficient, its introduction signals that the UK is taking trafficking and forced labour seriously.
Human rights lawyer Charlotte Proudman challenges online sexism
Barrister Charlotte Proudman accused a fellow lawyer of sexism when he said her photograph on LinkedIn was ‘stunning’. The public backlash that followed sparked a heated debate about the sexism women suffer online.
English costume designer, Jenny Beavan, stands up for girls’ freedom to wear what they like
Jenny Beaven took the Oscars by storm by wearing a skull-and-cross bones emblazoned faux leather jacket from M&S to receive her Oscar for best costume design rather than a designer gown. Despite the media furore, Jenny hopes her outfit had a “positive effect on how women feel about themselves”.
Suffragette is a huge hit
Suffragette, the first UK full-length feature film about women winning the right to vote, won many awards at various festivals and award ceremonies including for best film, best supporting actor, best actress, and best director.
These are great victories indeed. Help make 2016 even better by #PledgingforParity right now.