An independent body has advised the govt that misogyny should be treated as a hate crime when it’s the motivation for a crime. The review of the legislation has opened up a public consultation for people to share their experiences – here’s what you need to know. By Sadia Nowshin.
What’s being proposed?
Currently, crimes that happen because of a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity are treated as hate crimes. What the Law Commision, an independent body who advise the govt, are proposing is that misogyny is added to that list.
So, any crimes that happen because of the victim’s sex or gender would also fall under the umbrella of hate crime and be treated with the same severity. It would also mean that crimes where misogyny is identified as the cause will have to be tracked and recorded as such, which could help find patterns or repeat perpetrators easier.
The proposed change comes after campaigners thought the existing rules were too complex, and called for a review of the whole legislation.
Seven police stations in England and Wales already class misogyny as a hate crime, but it’s not a country-wide policy yet. In 2016, Nottinghamshire Police became the first force to treat misogyny as a hate crime after they started recording data on crimes that were motivated by a hatred of women. Following this first change, some forces (like Avon and Somerset Police) voluntarily followed suit.
What’s the response been?
Many MPs have come out in support of the suggestion, including Labour’s Stella Creasy, who called it “our moment for change”. In 2018, MP Creasy proposed an amendment to the anti-upskirting law that would have made misogyny a hate law then, but withdrew it after the gov said they’d formally review the issue.
In anticipation of people getting angry that this new law would take away their right to ‘free speech’ (because the right to cat-call is an important one to protect, clearly 🙄), the bill wouldn’t criminalise anything that isn’t currently considered illegal. All it would mean is that when a crime is identified to occur because of a hatred of women, the court could deal with it with more serious consequences.
How can I get involved?
The Law Commision will put together a report of recommendations that they then present to the gov, who ultimately have the final say on whether the amendment is enforced or not. As part of that report, they’ve opened up a public consultation for people to talk about their experiences of gender-based crime.
Creasey appealed to “every woman who has walked with keys in her hands at night, been abused or attacked online or offline” to take part and “be heard”.
The consultation is open until 24 December this year, and can be found here: consult.justice.gov.uk/law-commission/hate-crime/. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to your MP and ask them to support the propositions. Want some help? Have a read of our guide to writing a letter your MP can’t ignore.