Sadiq Khan: Misogyny should be a hate crime
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The petition, started by Ella Watson, calls for the Night Tube to be reinstated for winter to “improve women’s safety travelling home in London”. At the time of writing, the petition had attracted 120,912 had signed, and the number is climbing every minute, with calls for London Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action.
The Night Tube – which ran overnight on Friday and Saturdays on the Victoria, Jubilee, Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines – was suspended by Transport for London (TfL) during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, however, in the wake of the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard on London’s streets, Londoners are calling for it to be reinstated to protect women’s safety.
Writing in the petition, Ms Watson said: “The decision taken by TfL to keep the night tube closed over the winter of 2021/2022 will have a disproportionate impact on women and low-income groups, with women forced to take expensive taxis home during the busy festive season as a result of being unsafe in public.”
She added: “Women are more likely to be sexually assaulted at night. It’s a lot riskier for them to use the night bus and be left on the street.”
So will this lead to the Night Tube reopening?
There hasn’t been an official announcement, but Sadiq Kahn pledged to look at reopening “one or two lines” this year.
A spokeswoman for the Mayor said he was committed to improving women’s safety and re-opening the service “as quickly as possible”.
She added: “He has urged TfL to look into the feasibility of getting one or two lines reopened this year, which we hope will be possible.”
Andy Lord, managing director of London Underground, confirmed reintroducing one or two more lines at night was being explored and added the safety of women and girls was “an absolute priority”.
He said: “We are continuing to review how we might be able to reintroduce the full Friday and Saturday Night Tube in a safe and viable way as soon as possible.”
However, no date has been set for a return to Night Tube services.
Last trains in central London currently leave at 1am BST and restart at 5.30am, with anyone travelling between those hours left with night busses, taxis or walking.
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Ms Watson wrote that, with CCTV and well-lit platforms, the tube “is the best transport option to ensure millions of women across London can get home safely in the evenings and at night this coming winter”.
But there is hope for updates to come – petitions with this level of support can affect real change.
Under British law, any public petition which reaches 100,000 signatures is considered for debate in Parliament.
Leeds University politics professor, Cristina Leston-Bandeira, has conducted extensive research on the efficacy of petitions.
She told Big Issue: “In general terms I can say that petitions are the method that has enhanced engagement with parliament over the last few years.
“It’s useful for the political system – it’s almost a safety valve role to say, ‘Look, we’re really fed up with this’. It brings in another path to express your view and access policymakers.”
She added: “The petition itself doesn’t actually achieve anything aside from raising awareness, which can be quite useful in itself.
“But the main thing that makes a petition system is how people can sign it and collect support for it and what happens to it afterwards, which is the most important thing.”
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