Do Wales’ party leaders care about safeguarding?

On 7 April, we wrote to all party leaders in Wales with five questions on safeguarding children, particularly girls, in our schools.

The questions were sent in response to reports about the increasing levels of sexual harassment, violence and bullying that children and young people are having to deal with. The majority of victims are girls and young women. The majority of perpetrators are male.

These are the questions we asked:
1. Will you support local schools to uphold the rights of girls to safe, private, single-sex provision – including toilets, changing facilities, and fair access to sports?
2. Will you tackle the alarming levels of misogyny and sexism on schools – particularly the rising number of sexual assaults against female pupils?
3. Will you take steps to protect children from accessing online pornography and ensure that relationships and sex education emphasizes the short- and long-term harm of pornography for both girls and boys?
4. Do you agree that all interested parties (including groups representing women and children) must be consulted before the introduction of policies regarding gender identity?
5. Do you commit to addressing public and professional concerns about the teaching of gender identity in schools – particularly the harmful notion that controversial medical interventions should be considered for children and teenagers who do not conform to gender stereotypes?

We expected a swift and affirmative replies from our politicians. However, we have received only one reply – from Neil Hamilton, leader of UKIP. He has answered yes to all five questions.

So – nothing from Labour, Plaid, Conservatives, LibDems or the Green Party.

There’s a pattern emerging here.

  • We received a pitiful and paltry response when we asked Wales’ candidates to express their support – or otherwise – for the Equality Act 2010.
  • We sent an open letter to Women & Equalities Minister Jane Hutt, Education Minister Kirsty Williams, and Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland. Only Sally Holland took the time to address our concerns specifically.
  • Enquiries sent to candidate Police and Crime Commissioners were ignored by three out of four of Wales’ forces.
  • Merched Cymru member Dee McCullough was expelled from a hustings event organised by Chwarae Teg for asking questions about gender stereotypes.

Women are not being listened to by those who are meant to represent us. This will inevitably have impacts upon the safeguarding of women and girls in Wales.