Whistling as a criminal offense

So yesterday I wrote about my ambivalence to catcalls and the like, and today I read about a pledge that may be signed in the UK which will require them to write a law that may criminalize unwanted verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Since the law hasn’t been written yet, as I understand, I obviously can’t say what I think about it. The pledge in the convention that the UK may become  a party to would require signatories to create legislation that would penalize “unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

I realize it’s not law yet, but do you have any thoughts?


About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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3 Responses to Whistling as a criminal offense

  1. parusbarbara says:

    waiting for more voices from society.

  2. Ryan says:

    The intentions behind the law are good, but:

    1.) As written here, it does not specify which behaviors are illegal. Good laws are clear laws whenever possible.

    2.) “Unwanted” is a troubling term because desires vary from one person to another and may not be obvious. Similarly, what is intimidating to one person may not be to another.

    3.) This is yet another law that is particularly susceptible to the “he said, she said” problem.

    4.) Every new law requires resources to be implemented, which usually means that there are fewer resources to implement other laws. I don’t know the state of the courts and police force over in the UK, but I would guess that they don’t want to have to address another petty law.

    Given these problems, it may be more reasonable to expect “victims” in this case to toughen up. Not every moral issue should be a legal issue.

    • emmawolf says:

      *nods* It’s a good thing this isn’t law yet, so it remains to be seen how it will be worded. And it will probably be a reasonable person standard rather than how a particular victim will be made to feel. I hate telling people to toughen up, but I do think that the price of living in a society is that we are going to hear some unpleasant things.

      “Not every moral issue should be a legal issue.” Well put. Absolutely.

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