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Invisible people - the struggle of women and everyday slavery

Posted: Tuesday 6th February 2018
Blog: Febuary
In 1918, following years of bitter struggle, some women finally gained the right to vote. Progress for women has often felt painfully slow and this week I’ve been asked about attitudes towards me as a female public leader. Personally I don’t feel I am treated any different as a woman. When I first started as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) I was initially expecting some difficulties, in joining what has always traditionally been known as a male dominated environment.  However the reality was quite different and I was surprised at how open those around me were to working with not only myself but other women in senior positions across the Constabulary. This is not to say that any minority has an easy time. We have been striving to change attitudes for the past 100 years and I am not prepared to wait another 100 years for further improvements.

We all have our own challenges to overcome in order to reach our fullest potential.  As a woman I seek equality and not priority both in society and the workplace.  Fear of failure instead of excitement at the potential for our success can overshadow our ambition and hold us back.  I tell my team that they should continually challenge themselves and when necessary do things that scare them.  I really believe that we all have to push beyond our own limitations from time to time. If I had not then I wouldn’t be here as PCC today. This centenary reminds us that we should savour the triumph of women as fully as we can.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is warning that widespread use of cheap car washes and nail bars is fuelling modern slavery. Only last month Avon and Somerset Constabulary and partners, secured the first successful prosecution in the UK for exploitation and enforced child labour under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, after three people including a woman from Bath were sentenced. The issue of modern slavery was highlighted more strikingly when the NCA’s photographic exhibition entitled “Invisible People” visited Bristol. I went to see the exhibition and it was harrowing. It was certainly the kind of display which makes you think twice particularly about the everyday slavery that could be going on right under our noses. I am pleased to see that the “Invisible People” photography will continue to travel to key cities around Britain to raise awareness of this hidden crime.

Last week I held one of my public forums in Knowle. Forums are a great opportunity for residents to talk to me and the Chief Constable face to face. It is really important for me to hear first-hand the matters that are affecting local people to ensure the police are focusing on the concerns that matter most to our local communities.  I also joined the Bristol Commander Andy Bennett at a community meeting in Southmead to talk about motorbike thefts. It is vital that these conversations happen and that the police listen to and respond to the issues affecting local residents.

Later this month the Bristol Multi-Faith Forum will organise its annual ‘Diverse Doors Open Day’ celebrating religious diversity and giving communities the chance to experience each other’s cultures and learn about each other’s beliefs. It’s a great opportunity to visit the many places of worship across our city and to learn about what makes us all unique. If you can support this event it is taking place on Sunday, February 25 from 10am, email info@bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk for more details.


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