We are deeply troubled by the way in which this consultation has taken place. The consultation form posits the questions around the law in such a way as to privilege the rights and concerns of one group without properly enabling responses from other protected groups. Many of the respondents who have contacted us have commented on how badly framed, how confusing and how obstructive the form was. This does not create confidence in the consultation process as a whole.
We think this consultation has been flawed from the start with minimal effort to seek the voices of other affected groups or the wider population. Government has attempted to push it through fast without acknowledging or understanding the very real, practical issues that the proposed changes may bring.
The failure to properly facilitate a respectful and evidence based approach has created a toxic debate which has left people on all sides feeling victimised. It has meant that women and others wishing to discuss the issues have been left to organise themselves in what have been threatening and dangerous circumstances. This is completely unacceptable and government needs to reflect seriously on the way it has managed this consultation and take steps to improve the way future consultations are carried out.
Woman’s Place UK was created to step into the chasm left by government and other publicly funded organisations and to ensure that women had a place where their voices would be heard. There are several other such campaigns and initiatives. In the face of real hostility, threat, intimidation, harassment, abuse and violence, women have organised to meet and discuss issues of material concern to them.
WPUK has had 17 meetings over 12 months but could have doubled that number if our capacity had been able to meet demand. We will continue to organise meetings in the coming months.
The response to our campaign on social media and real life shows that there is huge concern about these proposals and anger at the way women’s voices have been side-lined and vilified.
All political parties have a big job to rebuild the respect and engagement of women voters in our democracy.
17th October 2018