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Rising violence against women in politics threatens democracy itself

Violence against female politicians – and the threat of it – is becoming much more common, and not only in Britain. Mona Lena Krook looks at how social media has opened up new channels for harassment, what distinguishes misogynistic attacks, and how other countries are responding to them. Ignoring or playing down the problem is not an option: it represents a growing threat to democracy across the world. 

On 12 July, MPs took part in a Westminster Hall debate on abuse and intimidation of candidates and the public in the recent UK elections. During the debate, Chris Skidmore, the Minister for the Constitution, announced that Prime Minister Theresa May had requested that the Committee on Standards in Public Life carry out a review – firstly, to examine the nature of the problem and its implications for candidates and office holders and, secondly, to consider whether measures already in place to deal with this issue are sufficient, effective, and enforceable.

Research published in 2016 and 2017 indicates that the vast majority of British MPs have experienced ‘intrusive or aggressive behaviour’ from constituents, while more than half of female MPs report having received physical threats. News reports suggest that intimidation and harassment have been on the rise for at least the last several years, with the online harassment of Stella Creasy being perhaps the most well-known case. The assassination of Jo Cox in June 2016, however, brought this issue into greater focus – and highlighted that women, in particular, appear to be targeted more often and more viciously than their male colleagues.

Click here to read the full article published by Democratic Audit UK on 8 August 2017. 

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