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  1. ITV Report

'Ugly backlash' when women speak out, says First Minister

Carwyn Jones pictured last November, when he defended his sacking of Carl Sargeant, the former minister who apparently took his own life after being told he faced allegations of improper conduct towards women. Credit: PA

First Minister Carwyn Jones has accepted the challenge set by the Welsh Government's advisor for violence against women and domestic abuse, to make Wales the safest place to be a woman in the whole of Europe. And in comments bound to be seen in the context of events since the death of Carl Sargeant, he's described an ugly backlash against women who speak out against sexual harassment.

In Wales and Westminster I have seen what the backlash looks like. It is ugly. I have witnessed campaigns and conspiracy theories, victim blaming and vile treatment towards women who choose to speak out.

This behaviour, as ever, has been driven by powerful men through traditional media, content to sensationalise regardless of the consequences.

And more viciously still, through the use of social media – where the law of the jungle seems to apply. Bullies are not brought to justice, and on at least one occasion I know of, harassment extended from online abuse, to direct harassment of a woman who chose to speak out.

This is despicable behaviour and simply demonstrates why such large numbers of women chose not to speak out, before the empowering affect of the #metoo campaign took hold.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

In his speech at Oxford University, Carwyn Jones said such misogyny had made him "incredibly angry" but he had resisted the "typically male" temptation to fight fire with fire and "get into a scrap". He said it was better to do something positive and he was committing the Welsh Government to showing the way, with a review of its gender and equality policies.

It would build on existing good work but highlight the need to do more and it would look at best practice around the world. Other key points would include:

  • Considering how to move gender to the fore in all decision-making
  • Making public appointments gender balanced by 2021
  • Working with local councils on tackling period poverty
  • Making sure the economic planning matched the rhetoric on gender
  • Making Wales, through new legislation, the safest place to be a woman in the whole of Europe.