Hate Crimes: South and East Asian Communities

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 22nd July 2020.

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Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Labour, Luton North

What steps the Government are taking to tackle the level of reported hate crime against south and east Asian communities during the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

We have heard these concerns from the police and charities, and we are working with them to ensure that police forces are reassuring affected communities and encouraging reporting of hate crimes during the pandemic. The Government are clear that there is no place for hate crime in modern Britain. These crimes destabilise our communities and there are no excuses for them.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Labour, Luton North

A petition recently created by Viv Yau has nearly 3,000 signatures already. It calls on the UK Government and media outlets to stop using stock imagery of south-east and east Asian people when talking about covid-19. The disproportionate use of images of Chinese, south-east and east Asian people in masks during the pandemic perpetuates the notion that all of us carry the virus, and it plays a significant role in the recent trebling of racist attacks, stereotyping and abuse. Will the Minister commit to working with Government and public bodies on the use of these images, and meet me to discuss the increase in hate crime during the pandemic?

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

The perpetrators of hate crimes targeting south and east Asian communities, and others, in relation to covid-19 are being punished. We know from the Crown Prosecution Service that it has prosecuted a number of cases involving racist abuse on the basis of perceived Chinese ethnicity. But of course the Government are always willing to work with interested parties to ensure that we are stopping hate crime, and I would happy to meet the hon. Lady to do that.