More than half of female MPs threatened with violence by public, survey reveals

Many have received death threats and verbal, which some fear will discourage other women from entering politics

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Wednesday 25 January 2017 18:17 GMT
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Jo Cox was murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency
Jo Cox was murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency

More than half of Britain's female MPs have been threatened with physical violence by a member of the public, a new survey has revealed.

Nine out of 10 have been abused online and 80 per cent have been verbally attacked, according to a BBC Radio Five Live investigation.

Two thirds of the 73 women MPs who responded to the survey, said they felt less safe after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

A third said they had considered giving up their job because of the abuse, and one in six said they would not have stood for Parliament in the first place if they had known what was to come.

Speaking anonymously, one MP said: "The level of violence and abuse has significantly increased in the last years. At times I have been very frightened."

Another said: "The response by Parliament's authorities, and sadly the police service, remains highly cavalier in the face of death threats and threats of violence. We are expected to suck it up and accept it as part of our job."

Two thirds of women MPs said they had heard sexist comments in Parliament, and nearly half said a crackdown on such behaviour was needed.

One MP said: "Told by one MP (male) that perhaps my place was in the kitchen washing the dishes."

BBC Radio Five Live head of news Rozina Breen, said: "The purpose of this survey was to make sure our coverage of women's politics continues to be as well informed and accurate as possible.

"Additionally, it is important to us to understand the working conditions and potential obstacles that female MPs may face, but not necessarily speak up about.

"We discovered some very interesting aspects about the reality of working as a female MP in Parliament today and we would like to thank all who took part and shared their thoughts and suggestions."

One in five women MPs said having children contributed to a decision to turn down or not seek a promotion.

Currently, only 30 per cent of MPs in Parliament are women.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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