Green Party’s Baroness Jones stands behind her call for a 6pm curfew
A Green Party peer has defended calling for a 6pm curfew for men to make women feel safe at night – but clarified the suggestion was ‘not entirely serious’.
Baroness Jones was criticised after using a House of Lords debate to propose legislation that would require all men to stay at home.
She raised the idea in the chamber as thousands of women shared their sobering experiences of walking alone in the dark following the abduction of Sarah Everard.
Women demanded action and organised Reclaim These Streets marches – but Baroness Jones went a step further, which drew a backlash.
Today she doubled down, telling Sky News: ‘Nobody makes a fuss when the police suggest women stay at home, but when I suggest it, men are up in arms. You should see my inbox. It’s full of misogynistic and racist emails to me.
‘Men just don’t understand the pressure that women are under and if this has sparked intense scrutiny then I’m really happy.’
First Green peer who boasts of having ‘no pets, no car and grows her own vegetables’
Jenny Jones is a mother of two who has sat in the House of Lords since 2013 as the first Green Party peer.
She made several unsuccessful bids to be elected as an MP but spent 16 years on the London Assembly. She came third in the 2012 election won by Boris Johnson.
Previously she served as deputy mayor to Ken Livingstone from 2003-4, when the hard Left icon was mayor (below).
She was born and raised in Brighton on the Moulsecomb estate, ‘the daughter of a hospital cook and a dinner lady’.
She did various jobs including crafts teacher, a secretary, a book keeper, a shop assistant and an office manager before going to university aged 45 to study archaology and working as an academic for 10 years.
Before election, she was an archaeologist working mainly in the Middle East.
Her website boasts that she ‘has no pets, no car and grows her own vegetables in summer’.
In 2013 the Green Party was asked to nominate its first member of the House of Lords. Jones was chosen by party members and became a life peer. She was later joined in the upper house by former party leader Natalie Bennett.
In 2015, Jones grabbed headlines when she refused to let Bennett answer a question from a reporter, who had referred to a car-crash interview with her that day as ‘excruciating’.
Baroness Jones was scathing of Scotland Yard, who she claimed had advised women in London about venturing out after dark.
The Met has issued general advice to women to stay safe – but stress it has not asked women to stay at home.
Baroness Jones said this morning: ‘It’s not an entirely serious suggestion as I don’t have the power to do that.
‘I was just trying to highlight that when police victim-blame by telling women to stay home, we don’t react, we just think it’s normal.
‘When I suggest it about men, everyone’s up in arms. What’s the difference? The difference is that there’s misogyny out there. We need to fix it.’
Baroness Jones, one of two Green MPs in the upper house, said the 6pm curfew was not party policy.
She first made the remarks on Wednesday, when she said: ‘In the week that Sarah Everard was abducted and, we suppose, killed—because remains have been found in a woodland in Kent — I argue that, at the next opportunity for any Bill that is appropriate, I might put in an amendment to create a curfew for men on the streets after 6 pm.
‘I feel this would make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.’
Her calls for a curfew echoed those made during the Reclaim The Night rallies in the 1970s, when members of the Women’s Liberation Movement took to the streets in the wake of the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
Baroness Jones said today ‘the whole Government does not seem to understand the pressure women are under and the deep misogyny buried in our society’.
Yesterday Priti Patel said ‘every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence.
The Home Secretary vowed that she would ‘do all [she] can to protect women and girls from violence and harassment’ and praised women for sharing their own experiences on social media.
Sadiq Khan acknowledged the capital was a dangerous place for women at night.
Asked by LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty if the streets of London were safe for women, he said: ‘No, they aren’t – or for girls – and it’s really important that people of my gender understand that.
‘If you’re a woman or a girl, your experiences of our city, in any public space, whether it’s in the workplace on the streets, on public transport is very different to if you are a man or a boy, and it’s really important that people like me in positions of power and influence understand that and take steps to address that.’
Baroness Jones was criticised after using a House of Lords debate to propose legislation that would require all men to stay at home
As well as the growing online movement, Covid-secure events have been planned.
A vigil called ‘Reclaim these streets’ has been organised on Facebook and is due to take place at Clapham Common bandstand in south London at 6pm on Saturday.
Women took to social media by the thousands to stress that the vulnerability felt when walking alone in the dark resonates with almost all women.
Nicola Sturgeon, arguably the most powerful woman in the country, said ‘there will be few – if any – women who don’t completely understand and identify with this’.
Labour MP Diane Abbott wrote: ‘Even after all these years if I am out late at night on an isolated street & I hear a man’s footsteps behind me I automatically cross the road.
‘It is the habit of a lifetime to try & keep safe. But it should not have to be like this #SarahEverard.’
Actress Katy Brand also said: ‘Important to clarify I think that although instances of kidnap and murder from a stranger are indeed rare, being aggressively followed in the street by a man is not rare at all.
‘I think it would be good to separate the two things. Lots of us have been scared many times.’