Politically Speaking: By Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen
Reflecting on a year since the first lockdown
The last 12 months have been so painful and difficult and I want to pay tribute to everyone in Batley and Spen, as well as across the rest of the region.
So many of us have lost friends and loved ones to this awful pandemic, many others have been affected in other ways, suffering from the effects of Long Covid, losing their jobs or their businesses.
This week, I joined many across the country to pause and take a moment to remember. I know it will take time to heal and I was pleased to see Kirklees Council light up their buildings to show their respect to the over 800 people who have lost their lives to Covid in the area, as well as the thousands who have died across the country.
These last few months must have been particularly tough for those grieving, to see the successful rollout of the vaccine, knowing things could have been so different. I am so proud of our scientists and volunteers who raced to find an answer that has saved so many lives.
We know the virus has cruelly widened the inequality in our society. Those frontline workers, often on low wages, kept our country going while others worked from home, risking their health and the health of their loved ones.
Women too have been under extra pressure. More likely to be let go from a firm than men, more likely to be on low incomes, more likely to be excluded from Government support and more likely to have the added pressure of home schooling and caring for others.
This year’s International Women’s Day was a chance to thank all the women in our lives who have carried us through this crisis.
Sadly, the pandemic has also impacted on women’s safety with three times as many women murdered by their partners or exes this year than pre-pandemic. This can’t be allowed to continue. The safety of women and girls must be a priority and we must all redouble our efforts to keep women safe not just in the home but on the streets, in the gym, offices, colleges and public transport.
Tragically the death of Sarah Everard in London reminds us all that even if you’ve done everything ‘right’ you are still at risk of harm.
In 2016 I spoke of my own experience. I was at university. A stranger tried to rape me in the street. I fought back and was saved when a neighbour came out of their home to help. I was one of the lucky ones. He went to prison. I didn’t know him. He wasn’t my husband or co-worker, a family member or boyfriend. I was able to get justice and with the parlous number of similar crimes going to court and even less resulting in a custodial sentence, I’d encourage all women and girls to report any assault to the police. I’m also pleased misogyny will now be added to the list of hate crimes so that police can identify clusters of offences and finally take action to support women and girls who shouldn’t have to put up with the abuse as they get as they go about their daily lives.
If I become the first ever woman Metro Mayor in the country in May, I want to support victims so they know that the police will help them and that they will be believed. I will also work with Government departments, police, charities and stakeholders to find ways to end the violence and abuse.
It has been an awful year for so many of us, but I truly believe that the next 12 months will be brighter for us all.