A rape survivor is calling for government to “educate” the public about face-covering exemptions, as England moves into a second lockdown.
Having her mouth covered still prompts traumatic flashbacks for Georgina Fallows, who was attacked some years ago. And now, she feels re-traumatised by being verbally abused in public when she doesn’t wear a mask.
She has written to ministers with seven mental-health and disability charities.
They are asking the government to promote a “recognised badge [or] identifier to signify the wearer as exempt”. But, the letter states, a badge “is no substitute for greater public understanding” of why people might not be able to wear face coverings and that this reason may be invisible.
“My attacker literally pulled me off the street and raped me,” Ms Fallows says.
“Having something in front of my mouth feels like his hand.”
She has severe post-traumatic stress disorder and flashbacks, sometimes so extreme she has been sedated by paramedics. And she has waived her right to anonymity in order to campaign for greater awareness.
Face coverings are mandatory in most indoor public spaces in England, including shops and public transport.
But there are exemptions for people for whom “putting on, wearing or removing a face covering” will cause “severe distress”.