14-06-18 - Protecting Women Online

"I've had death threats, I've had people tweeting that I should be hung if 'they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch's weight'... I've had rape threats...and n*gger, over and over and over again". These were the words of Diane Abbott MP during a parliamentary debate last year about intimidation against members of parliament. It was one of the the first times many people heard the extent of sexist and racist abuse facing women in UK politics – much of it coming from online social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Many of my female MP colleagues have suffered in similar ways to Diane and not only is it deeply hurtful and worrying, but it is also one of the reasons that make it more difficult for women to stand for public office. And it's not just MPs of course. A recent study by Amnesty International found that a staggering 1 in 5 women have suffered online abuse or harassment.

The internet does not respect international boundaries which means young women everywhere are vulnerable to abusive content from wherever in the world it originates, including the residents of Maidstone and the Weald.

The PM clearly recognises that this is an agenda which requires international co-operation. Amidst all the maligning and mud-slinging of trade tariffs at the G7 last week, Mrs May courageously chose to use the international stage to advance this mission, just as she did in her speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year.

She is right to demand that internet giants use their cutting-edge technology to rapidly remove content which is threatening or abusive towards women. I hope that her words will be heeded, and swift action taken in the same way that extremist content was addressed earlier this year. The Prime Minister is showing strong leadership and determination on this issue and she has my full support.


Helen's column is published weekly in the Kent Messenger. Please note the print version may differ from the content here.

Launch of flood management 'wetlands' project in Marden

Louise Smith from KCC, Farmer Peter Hall, Helen Grant MP, KCC Councillor Mike Hill and Julie Foley of the Environment Agency

A great step forward was taken for Medway River flood management at the launch of the Little Mill Farm wetlands project in Marden last weekend.

It is the fruit of an idea hatched by local farmer and land owner Peter Hall to harness natural processes to reduce flood risk further downstream. Measures include the use of 'intentionally leaky' small wooden dams to hold back water and slow the flow, the creation of temporary flood water storage areas and restoring river channels and natural meanders.

The project was supported and delivered by a wide range of stakeholders including the Environment Agency, Kent County Council, and Maidstone Borough Council.

Local MP Helen Grant has followed the progress of the project from its inception in November 2016 to the official launch this weekend. She said 'This is 'partnership working' at its best, with stakeholders all contributing resources and expertise to deliver a meaningful benefit for the community. I thank Peter Hall in particular for offering the use of four acres of his land for the 13,000 cubic metre Wetlands project and coming up with the vision. It is a great bonus for birds and other wildlife in the locality too'.

The launch event was designed to promote the idea to other local landowners and organisations who may take up grants for the idea with suitable land of their own. Over 50 people attended.

11 JUN 2018

Helen Grant MP Welcomes Public Involvement in Op Stack Replacement

Helen Grant, Member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald, has welcomed the launch of a public information exercise into the potential long term solutions to Operation Stack. Highways England are inviting people from across the county to share their views on the...

10 JUN 2018

Young Lives Foundation Football Match

(L-R) CEO of YLF Stephen Gray, Helen Grant MP, President of YLF Clive Emson, Tracey Crouch MP, Matthew Scott PCC The Young Lives Foundation (YLF) Charity Football Match was a first in YLF's history on Sunday, and was well supported by local politicians and...

09 JUN 2018

Hundreds flock to charity summer fayre

Joined by Maidstone Mencap Vice President Helen Grant MP Glorious weather blessed the day as hundreds of revellers participated in a huge range of stalls, activities and raffles at the Maidstone Mencap Summer Fayre in Mote Park. Live entertainment was...

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Helen's column

14 JUN 2018

Protecting Women Online

Kent Messenger Column – 14-06-18 "I've had death threats, I've had people tweeting that I should be hung if 'they could find a tree big enough to take the fat bitch's weight'... I've had rape...

07 JUN 2018

Tonbridge Road Sink Hole

Kent Messenger Column – 07-06-18 The scale of the damage caused to the A26 in Maidstone by last week's road collapse is deeply concerning. The greatest impact has been upon nearby residents, with...

31 MAY 2018

Special Educational Needs Funding

Kent Messenger Column - 31-05-18 Throughout my life I have been driven by a belief that everyone, irrespective of their background or circumstances, has their own special something to offer society....