Call to make misogyny a hate crime

By agency reporter
July 10, 2018

Gender equality campaigners have been joined by some of the Jewish and Muslim leaders, anti-hate charities, student union representatives and community groups who make up Citizens UK in delivering a joint call aimed at 46 Police Chiefs of England and Wales as they hold a key vote on whether misogynistic abuse and harassment of women will be made part of national hate crime reporting.

New research from a two-year study by Nottingham Women’s Centre found nearly half of women in the city had experienced unwanted sexual advances (48.9 per cent), groping (46.2 per cent) and over a quarter experienced indecent exposure (25.9 per cent)

An open letter co-signed by Fawcett Society, civil society alliance Citizens UK, senior faith leaders and NGOs asks the National Police Chiefs Council to vote to record misogyny as a hate crime nationwide at the upcoming NPCC meeting which will see police chiefs from across the country come together. The letter coincides with the release of a new two-year study by Nottingham’s Women Centre which revealed the success of Nottinghamshire Police’s decision to become the first police force in the UK to record misogyny as a hate crime.

Harassment and abuse of women was found to be of endemic proportions in the Nottingham study, with nine in 10 of the 679 men and women surveyed witnessing or experiencing incidents of this nature. In the small number of cases when an incident was reported as a misogynistic hate crime, women reported high levels of satisfaction with Nottinghamshire Police.  
The letter notes that, as highlighted by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the abuse, harassment and problematic behaviour that many women are subject to can create a culture of impunity in society, leading to more severe crimes.
Leading members of civil society alliance Citizens UK backed the letter as well as anti-hate groups. The groups have come together to make the case for the monitoring of misogynistic acts targeting women need alongside antisemitism, islamophobia, homophobia; one of a number of policy changes required to improve the UK’s record on violence against women and girls.
Currently five police forces of 46 forces in England and Wales undertake local reporting on misogyny hate crimes, after Nottinghamshire became the first to adopt the policy in 2016. Police chiefs have the opportunity to vote on a motion this week to ensure all forces report street harassment, online abuse and other acts directed at women because of their gender, as hate crimes.  
In 2014, Nottingham branch of Citizens UK study found that 38 per cent of women reporting a hate crime explicitly linked it to their gender. Following the report, Nottingham Women's Centre and Nottingham Citizens worked with the local Police Force to pioneer the reporting of misogyny hate crime across the county. 
Since then, Police Chiefs have faced growing calls from community organisations for action on misogyny: just this Wednesday (4 July 2018), 80 people led by a group of 15-year-old girls at a local school, including victims of misogynistic abuse and violence, delivered a letter to Lewisham Police Station asking that the Metropolitan Police adopt the policy in London.  
Sajid Mohammed, CEO of Himmah, a community-based initiative providing services, organisation and education, and a Citizens UK Council member said: "Misogynistic abuse is an everyday reality for women and the same hateful attitude which breeds Islamophobia and anti-semitism can be directed at women because of their gender. Nationwide misogyny hate crime reporting would allow police, the public and law makers to fully understand the scale of the day to day abuse and harassment women  face, so that we can build a society that does not tolerate hate directed against any person on the basis of their identity." 

Helen Voce, Nottingham Womens Centre said:  "We believe misogyny is the 'soil' in which violence against women and girls (VAWG) grows. The same attitudes at the root of sexism and harassment are the same attitudes that drive more serious domestic and sexual violence. Classifying misogyny as a hate crime enables the police to deal robustly with the root causes of violence against women.” 
Sam Smethers, CEO Fawcett Society said: "Misogyny is so widespread it has become normalised in our society. As a result women are routinely objectified and harassed. Unless we challenge it, this won't change. We have to start calling misogyny out for what it is – a hate crime." 

* Fawcett Society


Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.