I’ve intentionally made the headline soft because if you click on the video link below, you’ll hear some very hard words indeed.

On International Women’s Day, this issue is highly topical; on today’s (March 8) Daily Politics there was a debate about whether it is beyond the pale for men to wolf-whistle at women as they pass in the street, or to call out to them, even though they are strangers.

This Writer has never done either of those things. If I don’t know a person, shouting or whistling at them seems a highly disrespectful way of trying to get their attention; if I do, I can just go and address them normally.

But, of course, verbal abuse of women goes much further than that. Here’s the SNP’s Mhairi Black detailing some of the abuse she receives on a daily basis:

It may seem shocking that this happens in the UK, an allegedly advanced society, in the 21st century.

Personally, I would say that the Tory government should take some responsibility (but I would say that, wouldn’t I?) as its willingness to allow the mass media to spread the idea that it’s okay to abuse the sick and disabled has encouraged a certain element in society to believe they can add other groups – including religious or ethnic minorities and women – to their list of victims.

The answer is education, of course – demonstrating to people who are likely to behave in this manner, or to be led into doing so, that it is wrong.

But I think first there has to be an understanding on the part of some politicians (naming no names) that it is wrong.

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