bpas comment on the DHSC’s reversal of telemedicine guidance

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs, said:

“We were staggered by the reversal(*) which we can only assume is a bureaucratic blunder which will soon be rectified.

It simply makes no sense at all that as the Prime Minister was ordering people to stay in their homes last night the Department of Health was overturning a decision which would have enabled tens of thousands of women to access early abortion care lawfully at home, protecting their own health, that of their families, and that of the doctors, nurses and midwives who care for them.

Women with heath conditions, those self-isolating or caring for poorly family members simply cannot leave their homes at the moment – we are being contacted by women in desperate circumstances, incredibly anxious about what they should do. We urge the Government to reinstate this safe and sensible policy as well as amend the law to enable one healthcare professional to authorise an abortion.

The future of the UK’s abortion service and the health and well-being of many thousands of women with it depends on this.”

24 March 2020 https://www.bpas.org/about-our-charity/press-office/press-releases/bpas-comment-on-the-dhscs-reversal-of-telemedicine-guidance/


(*) On 23 March 2020
bpas comment on new measures to facilitate access to Early Medical Abortion

Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs, said:

“We are delighted that both abortion pills have been now been approved for use at home by women. This will reduce the time women need to spend needlessly in clinics, as many will shortly be able to collect their medication following a teleconsultation, and we also hope very soon to offer all eligible women a service where the pills are delivered straight to them.  This is a safe and effective practice which will mean women get the care they need in the most straightforward way.  However there is still more that can be done to guarantee women’s access in the current pandemic. We are calling on the Government to reduce the number of signatories needed for a lawful abortion and enable nurses and midwives to provide authorisation. The requirement that 2 doctors certify every abortion serves no clinical purpose, is an international aberration, and can cause significant and harmful delay. The UK’s abortion service relies on a very small number of doctors committed to women’s healthcare and if they fall ill the system risks falling rapidly into crisis, and women’s health with it. Without this change, women may be compelled to continue pregnancies they do not want in the struggle to find signatories – or resort to illegal measures outside the health service to end an unwanted pregnancy.  We welcome today’s announcement but urge the Government to take this final step to ensure women can continue to access the care they need during this crisis.”

https://www.bpas.org/about-our-charity/press-office/press-releases/bpas-comment-on-new-measures-to-facilitate-access-to-early-medical-abortion/

March 24, 2020

31 May 2020 ~ Organisations supporting women and girls are invited to apply for a share of £15 million from the Tampon Tax Fund – DCMS – Deadline

  • Thousands of women and girls set to benefit from fund before tampon tax ends
  • Organisations supporting women and girls can apply for a share of £15 million
  • To date more than £62 million of VAT on sanitary products has gone to good causes

Charities across the nation can apply for grants to fund projects which directly benefit disadvantaged women and girls, tackle violence and support their mental health and wellbeing.

As in previous years, larger charities and foundations will be able to apply for grants of £1 million or more. We expect these to then be distributed through their networks to support women and girls and to organisations that offer small and medium- sized onward grants.

In addition this year, applicants are able to use part of their grant funding to improve organisational sustainability.

The Tampon Tax Fund comes entirely from VAT receipts on women’s sanitary products.

While the UK was a member of the European Union, VAT on these products could not fall below 5 per cent. However the Chancellor has now confirmed that this tax will end in January 2021, following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Organisations must be able to deliver impact in their chosen category across multiple regions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Applications are welcomed from individual organisations, or groups with an identified lead organisation.

Grants may be for one or two-year projects, and all activities must be concluded and funds spent by 30 June 2022.

Charities can find out more information here.

The deadline for applications is 31 May 2020.

Notes:

  • The funding round being announced on 16 March 2020 is to allocate funds from the financial year 2019/20.

Part of a longer press release at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/charities-encouraged-to-bid-for-15-million-tampon-tax-fund–2

 

March 16, 2020

End sexual harassment at work – TUC Petition

We demand that the government brings a new law to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace before it happens.

Sign the petition and demand the government to take immediate action. #ThisIsNotWorking.

Why is this important?

Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace. But every day, people across the UK are sexually harassed at work. 1 in 2 women have been sexually harassed at work. 2 in 3 LGBT workers have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace – that’s 68%.

Currently, there is no legal duty on employers to take proactive action to prevent this from happening.

We’re demanding a new, easily enforceable legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation.

Our laws rely on individuals reporting but #ThisIsNotWorking. The onus is on the victim to report – which can be isolating, confusing and potentially traumatic. Four out of five don’t feel able to report sexual harassment to their employer.

It should not be down to the individual to prevent and manage their harassment alone.

Tell the government to act now and change the law.

TUC and members of #ThisIsNotWorking Alliance petition at https://www.megaphone.org.uk/petitions/uk-gov-act-to-prevent-sexual-harassment-at-work

March 13, 2020

Inquiry report finds risk of immeasurable harm to children from internet – IICSA

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published (12 March) its report on the Internet and Child Sexual Abuse.

The report highlights an explosion in child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet; since 2016, approximately 400 to 450 people are arrested in the UK for related offences each month. Despite technological advances to detect and prevent online child sexual abuse, law enforcement is struggling to keep up.

The report shines a light on the scale of child sexual abuse facilitated online, finding that the number of indecent images of children in circulation worldwide is in the many millions, with some images reaching unprecedented levels of depravity. It is still possible to access such imagery from common search engines in only “three clicks”. The report concludes that internet companies must do more to pre-screen material before it is uploaded to their platforms and systems.

During 14 days of public hearings in January 2018 and May 2019, the Inquiry heard distressing accounts from those directly affected by child sexual abuse facilitated online; the report describes the harm done to children and their families through online abuse as incalculable.

“You don’t know where these images will end up … and that is an awful feeling, thinking that paedophiles can just look online and get whatever they want … it’s scary”.  IN-A3, page 28

The Inquiry heard evidence that the UK is “the third greatest consumer in the world of the live streaming of abuse”. The report describes the case of a brother and sister who were groomed online by Anthony O’Connor, a 57 year old man who posed as a 22 year old woman. O’Connor manipulated 12 year old IN-A2 to sexually touch his 13 year old sister IN-A1. He later started to make IN-A1 perform sexual acts for him over webcam and said that if she did not do as he asked, images of the siblings together would be shared online.

The report highlights that live-streamed abuse can be accessed for little more than £1, offering encouragement to would-be offenders to engage in child sexual abuse on a significant scale.

In addition to law enforcement and government, the Inquiry also heard evidence from internet companies including Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

The report finds that industry responses appeared reactive rather than proactive; action seemed driven by a desire to avoid reputational damage rather than to prioritise protection of children.

The report concludes that internet companies failed to demonstrate that they were fully aware of the scale of underage social media use. It describes how online age verification processes can easily be subverted by children under 13; an age group at significant risk of being groomed. The lack of a comprehensive plan from industry and government to combat this problem should be urgently addressed.

Professor Alexis Jay, Chair of the Inquiry, said:

“The serious threat of child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet is an urgent problem which cannot be overstated.

“Despite industry advances in technology to detect and combat online facilitated abuse, the risk of immeasurable harm to children and their families shows no sign of diminishing.

“The Panel and I hope this report and its recommendations lead internet companies, law enforcement and government to implement vital measures to prioritise the protection of children and prevent abuse facilitated online.”

https://www.iicsa.org.uk/news/inquiry-report-finds-risk-immeasurable-harm-children-internet

March 13, 2020

23 April 2020 ~ Write Moves – movement and writing course for women of all ages – until 28 May 2020

Write Moves is a new women’s course at Poplar Union in East London. Write Moves is a movement and writing course   for women of all ages and is run by yoga practitioner and writer Rakhee Jasani and movement artist Vanio Papadelli.

The group will meet weekly at Poplar Union in East London for six weeks from 23 April 2020 6.30pm – 8.00pm

The course is to help women feel happier and more confident in their body.  Participants will let stories emerge from mindful movement and yoga, and their words and writing will also inspire dance. Participants will explore the different seasons through all the senses and are invited on a journey to make friends with other women of diverse backgrounds and different generations.

– No previous movement or writing experience is required, just a willingness to have a go.
– This is a 6 week course (Thursdays 23 April-28 May) and attendance over all sessions is encouraged.
– Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
– This is a women only workshop

More information can be found on: https://poplarunion.com/event/write-moves/

March 12, 2020