Annie Wells: Threats and assaults keep many women from going into politics

Each of us has been the victim of heinous abuse, especially online, where evil individuals feel emboldened to launch vicious personal attacks protected by the anonymity that social media offers.

My own Facebook and Twitter channels have been bombarded with disgusting abuse. There were days when it seemed like I just blocked or muted people for throwing out things I’m sure they would never say in public.

But it can also take a more sinister turn. I had threatening messages telling me they knew exactly where I was.

Scotland’s police had to intervene. Holyrood officials told me to use different routes to go to work and not to go alone. Security teams have said to hold meetings in as public an area as possible.

None of this makes you feel safe or secure. It can be frightening. Sometimes one wonders what drives people to threaten another human being in such a way.

There is a level of criticism that you expect from politicians. We all understand that it can be a tough game.

But when the news turns violent and your safety is threatened, that’s a whole different story.

It doesn’t get female politicians to keep doing the job and what’s really depressing is I’m sure it keeps a lot of talented women from ever introducing themselves.

In recent years we have been fortunate to have more women standing for election. But I fear that unless we, as a society, do a better job of eradicating this toxic undercurrent of politics, these positive and progressive steps toward 50:50 representation of men and women will regress.

Annie Wells is Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow Annie Wells: Threats and assaults keep many women from going into politics

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