‘Protect women, not statues’, chanted at the Kill the Bill protest on Sunday 14th, as police rallied around the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square. For a week bookended by International women’s day and Mother’s day, it couldn’t possibly have been more distressing for women across the country. 

From the disappearance of Sarah Everard- who was just walking home- allegedly at the hands of a police officer, to the revelation that 97% of women in the UK between the ages of 18- 24 have been sexually harassed (according to a survey from UN women UK), one thing couldn’t be more clear: the police do not protect women.

As if they wished to confirm this themselves, footage of Metropolitan police brutally manhandling grieving women at Sarah Everard’s vigil on Saturday has angered the nation. Following this horrific display of the police openly abusing their powers, what’s certain is that the last thing they need is even more power, but this is exactly what the government is planning on giving them, in the form of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is to be voted on in Parliament on Tuesday.

If passed, the bill will significantly restrict the ability to protest, criminalise Gypsy, Roma & Traveller communities, as well as expand stop and search powers. Some of the protest restrictions include time limits on the duration of protests, and maximum noise levels.

What kind of a democratic country would the UK be if we weren’t allowed to hold peaceful protests, noisy or not? And, if this new bill was solely being introduced because we’re in a pandemic, surely it would’ve been voted on when anti- lockdown protestors were taking to the streets, maskless, every week or so.

On Sunday 14th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters that he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the violence that women had been subjected to by police. If the government is truly committed to ending violence against women, then they must drop the bill, which includes a higher sentence for damaging a statue than the minimum sentence for rape.

If you want to oppose the new bill threatening our right to protest, go to @/netpolcampaigns (Instagram) and sign their petition for the government to drop the bill, or write to your local MP, especially if they are a Conservative.

Without the right to hold peaceful protests, women have everything to lose.