Deceived women launch sexism complaint to United Nations against UK government undercover policing

Director, Harriet Wistrich, of Centre for Women's Justice has lodged a complaint to United Nations:

Seven women psychologically and sexually abused by undercover policemen infiltrating UK protest groups have lodged a complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The women complain that the United Kingdom Government has failed to prevent institutionalised discrimination against women by the police. All the women suffered serious psychological harm through having been deceived into long term intimate relationships with undercover policemen.   These intimate relationships involved five different undercover police officers over a period spanning nearly 25 years.

In one of the first complaints of its kind made to the committee, the case stands to trigger a potential investigation and finding against the UK government.

The Metropolitan Police issued an apology to the women in November 2015, but despite this has refused to provide any disclosure or information about the relationships.  In addition, the UK government has failed to prosecute or apply any sanctions to any of the officers concerned or their supervisors, and refused to amend UK law to explicitly make such relationships an offence.

Helen Steel: "Our central aim in bringing this case is to make sure that these abusive relationships are not allowed to happen again.  The repeated use of women in this way by undercover policemen is a form of discrimination against women and a barrier to women's rights to participate in protest activity."

‘Lisa’: “In signing up to this Convention, the UK committed itself to work to end discrimination against women. If the committee finds against the UK it will be a huge embarrassment and will shine a spotlight on the institutional sexism in the police and the government’s ongoing failure to outlaw these abusive practices.”

Harriet Wistrich, solicitor for the Applicants, says, “CEDAW has a complaints procedure which is broad in reach, enabling the women to cite gender based violence, gender stereotyping and the impact on reproductive rights, as part of a pattern of institutionalised discrimination by the State in this case.”

The case has been launched to coincide with the 16 days of action called by the United Nations that commenced with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November and culminates in Human Rights Day on 10th December.

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