End 'epidemic of violence' call

Unite delegate Ruth Hayes on tackling violence against women and girls

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Unite delegate Ruth Hayes gave an inspiring speech on tackling violence against women and girls at Labour Party Conference on Tuesday (October 10).

Ruth, who also serves as chair of the Labour Party national women’s committee, blasted Tory inaction on gender-based violence, which she called “staggering”.

“Since last year, the gravity of this has become even starker, with the Casey report finding the Metropolitan Police force guilty of institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia,” she noted.

Ruth told conference that for years, women have marched to reclaim the night, but that now “due to the growing impact of online abuse and of misogynist influencers, we urgently need to reclaim our online spaces too”.

“Women and girls must be allowed to take our rightful place — which is anywhere we want to be!” Ruth proclaimed to applause from the hall.

Ruth noted that Labour’s “ambitious targets” to halve levels of violence against women and girls “requires serious and joined up action”.

“Crucially a Labour government must deliver legal reform and ensure that the needs of survivors of rape and assault are absolutely central to how services are run,” she continued.

But Ruth reminded conference that “we must also make gender-based violence a workplace issue”.

“Initiatives such as my own union Unite’s Get me Home Safely campaign are leading the way, making sure that employers meet their responsibilities for women’s safety and put women at the heart of fighting for our own rights,” she said.

Urging conference to support the composite, Ruth concluded, “We must end this epidemic of violence against women and girls — we need a Labour government.”

By Hajera Blagg

Pic by Mark Thomas