House of Commons
No business scheduled
On we march
Written by Ralitsa Bobcheva, associate
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner
19 March 2021
In November 1977, torches lit up the streets of Leeds, York, Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and London as part of the first Reclaim the Night marches held in the UK, after a series of murders across the north of England prompted the police to advise women that to avoid attack, they should stay at home after dark.
The marches continued for decades and, while their focus has evolved, women continue to walk them for the same reasons today.
The issue of male violence and sexual harassment was brought into sharp focus over the last two weeks by the disappearance of Sarah Everard.
In the wake of Sarah’s death, a series of stories and reports reinforced women’s almost ubiquitous experience of sexual harassment, leading to an announcement that England and Wales will recognise misogyny as a hate crime on an experimental basis.
The bill, first piloted by Nottinghamshire Police in 2016, is a significant breakthrough at a time when sexual harassment remains a widely under-reported issue, with a recent UN Women UK study showing that more than 95% of all women do not report their experiences of sexual assault. The reasons for that trend are manifold – lack of available or effective reporting mechanisms, different levels of perceived severity of incidents and emotional responses.
More than forty years after the first marches for safer streets for women began, the majority of women continue to feel a profound sense of discomfort or fear of walking home alone. Sarah’s death is a watershed moment and the danger is that we allow this reckoning to fade away and lose its momentum again.
To prevent that, we have to continue to highlight acts of violence against women and keep them right at the top of news agenda. Until the day women feel safe to march the streets after dark, alone and unafraid.
A special Holyrood inquiry is reported to have ruled by five votes to four that Nicola Sturgeon misled the Scottish parliament by providing an “inaccurate” account of her 2018 meetings with Alex Salmond when giving evidence under oath to MSPs. However, the committee stopped short of saying she did so “knowingly”. The committee’s final report is expected to be published on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Boris Johnson said that there will be no change to England’s lockdown easing roadmap despite the NHS warning of a “significant reduction” in the supply of coronavirus vaccines next month. He added: “We will receive slightly fewer vaccines in April than in March, but that is still more than we received in February”.
Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and Germany, have confirmed they will resume the roll-out of the Astrazeneca vaccine. This comes after the EU medicines regulator said that there is clear scientific evidence that the jab is “safe and effective”,
The UK government is set to take action to force Northern Ireland to implement abortion laws, as new figures suggest that more than one hundred Northern Irishwomen have still sought abortions in England during the pandemic. The DUP has warned that it will “vigorously oppose” any further legislative action over abortion in the region.
Business and economy
Planned reforms by the UK’s audit and corporate governance regime are set to result in more than £430m in extra costs to businesses every year. Under the planned measures, directors will be forced to take on much greater responsibility and liability for company accounts, while large businesses will be required to be more transparent about finances. (£)
The United States and China have publicly clashed during the first high-level talks under the Biden administration, quashing hopes that the meeting would reset bilateral ties. Chinese officials accused the US of inciting countries “to attack China”, while the US said China had “arrived intent on grandstanding”.
Consumer confidence has jumped seven points to minus 16 in March, reaching a near 12-month high. A well-received UK government budget combined with the vaccine rollout and the easing of lockdown restrictions across the UK have left consumers feeling more confident about their personal finances and the wider economy over the last month.
Columns of note
Writing in The Independent, Cathy Newman looks at five decades of campaigns for the protection of women from the various forms of violence and harassment they face on a daily basis. While the #MeToo movement in 2017 changed the public mood, it didn’t change policy. The newly introduced rules on misogyny are a significant breakthrough in that direction, but the road has been an unnecessarily long, and, more often than not, lonely, Newman writes.
In The Guardian, COP26 president Alok Sharma paints a dire picture of the impacts of climate change across the globe – melting glaciers in Nepal, floods and droughts in Ethiopia and, closer to home, vanishing coastal towns. He says that the UK’s integrated review published this week is evidence that the UK is rising to the challenge of climate change, but that to halve global emission in the next decade we must bring everyone – governments, communities, third sector organisations and business – together. COP26 is the chance to do that.
What happened yesterday?
Global stocks were in a mixed state yesterday, as investors pondered a dovish statement from the Federal Reserve. The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.25% at 6,779.68 and the FTSE 250 was 0.05% firmer at 21,568.56.
Sterling was down 0.25% against the dollar at $1.3931 but gained 0.26% on the euro to €1.1687.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.46%, to 32,862.3, the S&P 500 lost 1.48%, to 3,915.46 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.02%, to 13,116.17.
What’s happening today?
James Fisher and Sons
Red Rock Resources
UK economic announcements
(00:01) GFK Consumer Confidence
(09:30) Public Sector Net Borrowing
Int. economic announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
In 1993, ‘Sky & Telescope’ magazine held a contest to replace the term ‘Big Bang’. The 13,000 entries included ‘Buddha’s Burp’, ‘Hubble Bubble’, ‘Matter Morphosis’, ‘Bertha D. Universe’, and ‘Doink’. The judges decided that nothing was better than ‘Big Bang’. (Source: @qikipedia)
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
Education (Guidance about Costs of School Uniforms) Bill – second reading
British Library Board (Power to Borrow) Bill – second reading
Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill – second reading
Forensic Science Regulator Bill – second reading
No business scheduled
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