On Wednesday, after a long parliamentary journey, the Modern Slavery Bill passed – sans vital protections for overseas domestic workers. Since visa changes in 2012, migrant domestic workers have been tied to one employer upon entering the UK. A change that failed in its purpose (reduce immigration), but was successful in increasing the abuse of vulnerable women in this country. Which is an odd definition of success.
It's a sad fact that women disproportionately suffer certain types of crime precisely because they are women. Domestic violence, sexual assault, rape – of course men suffer these crimes too, but it remains a terrible truth that the overwhelming majority of victims are female.
If there’s one thing we know in the press office it’s that good news doesn’t sell papers. We try not to let this get us down – as Jerry Seinfeld said, it's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper. So you might not have heard, but this week has been one of victories here at Liberty HQ.
In less than a week, more than 9,000 of you took the time to sign Liberty and Kalayaan’s petition calling on Peers to back an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill that would allow vulnerable workers to escape abusive employers by axing the deeply flawed tied visa system.
Principles can be tricky things, can’t they? We all have values we think are terribly important - until we have to act on them. Perhaps speaking up would cost us a seat on the train, a friendship or even our job – and if we’re honest whatever the price is, it’s often a bit too high.
After years of feet dragging by the Ministry of Defence, a committee of MPs seized their opportunity last week and voted to change the Armed Forces Bill to ensure that our service men and women can access an independent and impartial decision-maker should they wish to make a complaint about their lives in the forces.
However, the Government opposes granting the new Service Complaints Ombudsman the power to investigate these complaints.
Ernest Hemingway said ‘most people never listen’ – and perhaps we could all be a bit better at it. Including the Government, who’ve been sticking their fingers in their ears for ten years over prisoner voting. I know this is an emotive issue but let’s stick to the facts of what the European Court of Human Rights has (and hasn’t) said.