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International Women’s Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 5th March 2020.

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Photo of Rosie Duffield Rosie Duffield Labour, Canterbury 2:02 pm, 5th March 2020

Absolutely. I would welcome any such discussion in this House—and we know that the issue goes across the House; it is not just about one particular party. I thank the hon. Lady for raising the point.

Luckily, most of us here are made of pretty tough stuff: we do not usually get to this place by accident. But tough or not, our strength and mental wellbeing can be pushed to breaking point. The sinister side of the kind of serious online abuse that public figures are often subjected to can lead to some pretty dark places—from pile-ons on social media, to nasty, anonymous emails, swastikas daubed on office doors or bricks thrown through windows. But it is not all doom and gloom either. On social media, communities are speaking out for each other more and more—women making sure that those most abused feel supported and safe.

A couple of days ago, a petition with 850,000 signatures was taken to Downing Street, every one of them inspired by the hurt and pain collectively felt by the nation when we heard the terrible news of Caroline Flack’s tragic death. There is now recognition that things need to change—not just for five minutes or five months, but significantly. There can be no more terrible tragedies such as Caroline Flack’s—no more salacious gossip printed as news for our entertainment. There are real consequences. Let us follow leading broadcasters such as Iain Lee, himself so brave and honest when discussing issues such as mental health, and be kind. Kindness costs nothing, and it could actually start to save lives.