By-election candidates debate violence against women at online hustings

Hundreds get wrong ballot papers

Hundreds get wrong ballot papers - Credit: Archant

A selection of candidates for the four upcoming by-elections across Hackney have been quizzed on their policies concerning violence against women and girls in an online hustings.

A series of hustings, chaired by domestic abuse charity Sistah Space, was arranged by the Women’s Equality Party.

The party is not fielding candidates in the local by-elections as it prioritises its bid to secure a representative on the Greater London Authority (GLA).

The debates covered three of the four wards electing new councillors this year, as well as a session giving a platform to the GLA candidates for North East London.

Candidates were grilled by Sistah Space representative Rosanna Lewis on whether they were willing to make tackling violence against women and girls a political priority if elected.

Ms Lewis said: “Most of the candidates were passionate about domestic abuse issues, but overall, the event confirmed Sistah Space’s views about the lack of knowledge and the need for training for all professionals including politicians, police and the criminal justice system. 

“There is clearly a long way to go as the majority of the parties did not have a domestic abuse policy or the candidates did not know anything about it.

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"Most concerning was that there was no mention of African-heritage women and domestic abuse in any policy or literature from the parties.”

Ms Lewis, who criticised Hackney Labour for not sending any of their candidates to the debates, grilled Conservative, Green, independent, Liberal Democrat and Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidates on their positions on institutional racism in light of the government’s controversial Newell report.

The candidates were also asked what they would do to end gender-based violence in Hackney and restore women’s trust in the criminal justice system, what men’s role is in ending violence against women and girls, and what their views were of the widely reported dispute between Sistah Space and Hackney Council.

WEP deputy leader and Hackney resident Tabitha Morton said: “This was an important opportunity for all the parties and candidates contesting the elections to show they are serious about ending the pandemic of male violence. To show they had listened and had a plan for supporting women of African heritage.

"But we need much more than words; we need action. That’s why we are asking for people to vote Women’s Equality Party on the orange ballot, so we can make sure women’s equality is at the heart of every single decision taken in City Hall.”

You can watch the hustings here.