Shropshire Star

MP calls for ‘data based on sex’ after reported hospital assaults on women

Labour MP Rosie Duffield referred to a report that found that more than 6,500 sexual assaults have been committed in hospitals in England and Wales.

Hospital wards

It is “vital” to collect “data based on sex” in light of reports of women being assaulted in care settings, MPs have heard.

During questions to the Minister for Women and Equalities in the House of Commons, a number of MPs also chose to highlight transwomen competing in female sports and gender neutral toilets as issues impacting women’s safety.

Labour MP Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) referred to a report from the Women’s Rights Network, a campaign group which claims to “defend the sex-based rights of women”.

The report, authored by Professor Jo Phoenix, found that more than 6,500 rapes and sexual assaults have been committed in hospitals in England and Wales over nearly four years.

Ms Duffield told the Commons: “I know that the Secretary of State agrees with me that the vulnerable women, women with learning disabilities and all women should be able to access same sex care, particularly with regards to intimate physical care.

“This is especially important in light of the shocking report by Women’s Rights Network and Jo Phoenix, on rape and sexual assault in hospitals and care settings.

“This is why the proper collection of data, based on sex, is vital.”

Minister for Women Maria Caulfield replied: “We are currently consulting on the NHS Constitution which will give women not just the right to same sex accommodation within hospitals, but the right to ask for someone of the same sex to conduct intimate examinations.”

LGB Alliance annual conference 2021
Labour MP Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) referred to a report from the Women’s Rights Network, a campaign group which claims to ‘defend the sex-based rights of women’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch went on to say the Government is introducing new building regulations to ensure men and women do not have to “share the same space” in public bathrooms.

Conservative former minister Andrew Jones asked: “What is the Government doing to ensure privacy and dignity for women is protected in toilet facilities?”

Ms Badenoch replied: “There are various reasons why women and men should be able to access single sex spaces, and public toilets are no exception.

“So we’re updating building regulations so that toilets in non-domestic buildings offer safety, privacy and dignity for all people who use them.

“There is often confusion between gender neutral toilets and unisex toilets.

“We support unisex toilets, for toilets and bathrooms where men and women share the same space are the things that we are trying to get rid of with these new building regulations.”

Unisex toilets
Unisex non-binary gender neutral toilets (Martin Keene/PA)

Later in the session Conservative MP Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) stated that sporting bodies had interpreted the Equality Act “to believe they cannot lawfully ban males who identify as girls and women for competing in women’s sport”.

Ms Cates said: “Does (Ms Badenoch) agree this interpretation is not correct?

“And that it is lawful to exclude all males from female sport to achieve safety and fairness for women and girls?”

Ms Badenoch: “I do agree, there is so much misinformation out there, incorrect guidance that is creating confusion.

“I recently had a roundtable with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and she and I both agreed that this is an area which sports bodies in the UK need to tackle more strongly.”

Earlier in the session shadow equalities minister Anneliese Dodds asked Ms Badenoch to clarify whether she believes the topic of menopause at work is a “left-wing issue”.

Ms Dodds made reference to the Equalities Act 2010 which “includes protections against dual discrimination” on age and sex, saying: “But the Conservatives have refused to enact those protections, Labour would put that right.”

She added: “We would also require large businesses to produce menopause action plans, something the Government has refused to do, we’d publish guidance for smaller ones too, we’d set a new investment target for women-led start-ups, and we’d transform the rights of women at work with a new deal for working people.

“The minister for women and equalities (Kemi Badenoch), of course, has suggested that menopause at work is a left-wing issue.

“Does the minister opposite agree?”

Ms Caulfield said: “Well, the shadow minister fails to mention the Help to Grow portal which has been developed, which has a menopause resource hub, which enables employers to be able to use that information to better support women in the workplace, whether that’s with flexible working with laws that we have introduced as a Conservative Government, or whether that’s simple measures like even the uniform women wear makes a difference in the workplace.”

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