UN expert berates Britain's 'sexist culture'

2014-04-16 19:11
United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo addresses journalists in central London. (Carl Court, AFP)

United Nations Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo addresses journalists in central London. (Carl Court, AFP)

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London - A United Nations investigator warned on Tuesday that Britain had a "boys' club sexist culture" that was more pervasive than in other countries.

Rashida Manjoo, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, also confirmed that she was blocked from entering an immigration detention centre for women during her 16-day fact-finding visit to Britain.

In an initial report on violence against women, the South African human rights expert said legal and policy responses focused on harmful practices, such as forced marriages, but ignored the dangers from "a sexist culture that exists in the country”.

Manjoo told a press conference she had "found levels of sexism that did not exist in other countries she had visited".

She said: "The British media are responsible for negative and over-sexualised portrayals of women with some websites and TV channels dealing in the marketisation of their bodies.

"It is clear that there is a boys' club sexist culture that exists, and it does lead to perceptions about women and girls in this country."

Sexist culture ‘pervasive’

She added: "Have I seen this level of sexist culture in other countries? It hasn't been so 'in your face' in other countries.

"I haven't seen that so pervasively in other countries. I'm sure it exists but it wasn't so much and so pervasive."

Manjoo has visited the cities of Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester and London.

She complained that despite several requests, the government did not allow her to visit Yarl's Wood, the main centre holding women and families facing deportation from Britain.

The privately-run centre has been the focus of criticism from human rights campaigners after claims of women being detained for long periods of time and pregnant detainees being held without justification.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office interior ministry said a tour of Yarl's Wood "was never agreed as part of this fact-finding mission".

On the rapporteur's wider points, the spokeswoman said: "Violence against women and girls in any form is unacceptable and the government has shown its commitment to ending it."

 

Read more on:    un  |  britain
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