Britain is sexist because the government won’t pay for women to have spare bedrooms, a UN rapporteur has claimed. She also slammed the government’s austerity cuts as sexist because they perpetuated violence against women.
Rashida Manjoo, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women published her comments in a report on her recent visit to the UK, due to be discussed during the current session of the Human Rights Council.
“Responding to and preventing violence against women needs to include basic survival needs, such as subsidized housing, income support, childcare and educational support,” Ms Manjoo wrote. She then criticised the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ for making it harder for women to escape domestic violence, claiming that it prevents victims from accessing “safe accomodation and support.”
Other extraordinary claims made by Ms Manjoo include an assertion that public spending cuts have led to an increase in unemployment, citing estimates that 1.1million public sector jobs are due to be cut between 2011 and 2018. However, she makes no mention of the 2 million private sector jobs created between 2010 and 2014.
She bemoaned the lack of social welfare for female failed asylum seekers, lamenting that the women were having to get by on the goodwill of friends and charities.
And Ms Manjoo accused Britain of perpetuating cultural sexism, writing: “Generally, social and cultural constructions of women’s roles and status perpetuate stereotypes that disadvantage women and preclude the enjoyment of all their human rights, including the right to a life free of violence.
“Practices justified on the basis of customs, religions and traditions also facilitate violence against women and girls in some instances.”
Her recommendations to the British government include government censorship of all media to restrict “harmful and misogynistic images of women … that condone discrimination and abuse against them”, compulsory sex education, and ring fencing government spending for “specialist services … for black and minority ethnic women, for refugee and asylum-seeking women, as well as women facing particular barriers, such as women with disabilities and women from the LGBTI community.”
According to the Daily Mail, Ms Manjoo sparked outrage last year when she accused Britain of having a “boys’ sexist club culture”, whilst praising Jordan and Algeria over womens rights. Jordan only granted women the vote in 1977, and honour killings are still not unheard of. A 2013 study found that one third of Jordanian teenagers think murder the morally correct punishment for women or girls who shame their families.
Ms Manjoo hails from South Africa, which the UN says has more rapes than any other country in the world – as many as 500,000 a year, according to some estimates. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “Rather than criticising us, she should take a look at the rest of the world such as the Middle East, where violence against women is a much greater problem.
“Millions of people are voting with their feet to try to get in here, so the UN should take a long hard look at what is going on in the rest of the United Nations.”