On Friday 15th June, in an almost empty Parliament, a Private Member’s Bill was read out to a sparsely populated room.
The Bill was an act to make up skirting- the act of photographing up a woman’s skirt without her knowledge- a criminal offence.
It was expected by almost everyone to breeze through proceedings as it clearly stood as an obvious step to take in order to protect women whilst out in public.
However, as the Bill, which was only in Parliament due to the tireless campaigning of Gina Martin, who had an up skirt image taken of her without her consent at a festival, was read out to the room, one man shouted ‘object’ before the speaker could even finish her sentence.
As a result of this, the Private Member’s Bill was stopped and pushed to the back of the pile again to be debated on the 6th July.
The form of the Bill was that of a private member’s one, meaning that if it is read out three times in Parliament without objection, it will be passed, hence why the decision of the mentioned MP, Sir Christopher Chope, caused anger amongst the benches, with many Conservative MP’s shouting ‘shame’ at the male MP.
Speaking to the Guardian about the matter, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse expressed her frustration at Chope, stating that he probably doesn’t even know what up skirting is and that his main cause for objection was the fact that he does not like private member bills, especially those passed by other parties; ‘He hardly knows what up skirting is, I think. It’s just he doesn’t like private members bills and certainly doesn’t like them when they come from other parties.’
Chope’s clear dislike for private member’s bills has displayed his complete lack of professionalism, as he blocks any bill that is private without even taking the time to read up about it.
There is also evidence that Chope was approached by several female MPs before the reading who tried their best to explain to him the dangers and the violation of the practice of up skirting, yet his response to all of them is said to have been rather negative.
For a party who have been trying to portray themselves as cool and accessible for the youth, Chope’s decision has definitely lost the Conservatives any ground they had covered on that.
Theresa May has expressed her ‘disappointment’ at the passing of the Bill, whilst Chope has woken up over the past few days to find pants adorning his front door in protest to his decision, whilst people have also be labelling him as a pervert.
Many Conservative MPs took to twitter to express their frustration and annoyance at Chope, with some stating that the 71 year old only shouted ‘object’ for the attention, which I am sure we can all agree is an incredibly childish thing to do.
MPs are labelling the decision as ‘unacceptable’ whilst others are calling for the Bill to be passed as soon as possible, an act that Theresa May has of course promised, yet one which will probably still face opposition in the form of Chope in a month’s time.
Up skirting is an offence which affects thousands of women every year and can indeed be seen as a complete violation of privacy and female rights.
Despite this, in light of one male MP’s decision, it appears that the law has been postponed for one more month, hopefully in that time people can talk some sense into Conservative Chope.