This blog was posted as a number of Citizens UK community leaders from Manchester, London, Newcastle and Nottingham joined MPs, charity CEOs and Police Commissioners in an open letter asking that Police Chiefs take Misogyny Hate Crime seriously.
By Sylvie Pope, Greater Manchester Citizens
Today Fawcett Society revealed that there have been 67,000 incidents of hate crime targeting women last year.
We have joined Fawcett Society, Women's Aid and others in writing a public letter to Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and Sara Thornton, Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to meet with us to discuss recording misogyny as a hate crime.
Over the past year I’ve been working with Manchester Citizens on the misogyny hate crime campaign and, although the amount of support for the campaign has been brilliant, it’s still evident that there are many who have doubts about misogyny becoming a hate crime and many who aren’t clear exactly what it would mean.
Here are five things you need to know about the misogyny hate crime campaign:
1. Wolf whistling would not be criminalised
First, contrary to what you might read in certain newspapers, recording misogyny as a hate crime would not lead to “men being locked up for wolf-whistling”.
Misogynistic hate crimes recorded by the police since Nottinghamshire Police Force adopted it include: stalking, groping, indecent assault and kidnapping.
Second, the law is not going to change at all. Making misogyny a hate crime simply means police forces would log and monitor such incidents and then enable them to create a full picture of the problem, support victims, and make them aware of where incidents are reoccurring.
As Nottinghamshire police made clear when they made the introduction, “A hate crime is simply an incident, which may or may not be deemed a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.”
2. The problem is intersectional
Many local women’s experiences revealed the intersection of misogyny with other forms of hate, most notably islamophobia. In our Tyne and Wear alliance, many women in the region are concerned with the increasing levels of misogynistic hate crime.
Taj, who is a leader with Tyne and Wear Citizens, has been a victim of misogynistic hate crime herself. She explains in this article that she feels “it’s a triple whammy” because the abuse she receives is on the basis that she’s a muslim, woman and she has brown skin.
3. It would enable women to report
Recording misogyny as a hate crime doesn’t change what is already a crime under UK law, but it could have a huge impact on women’s perceptions of what they can report. It was reported earlier this year that more than a third of women had experienced “unwanted sexual touching” in public spaces but they felt they couldn’t report it.
Without recognising misogyny as a hate crime, many women feel they cannot report because they don’t feel they would be taken seriously.
Without recognising misogyny as a hate crime, we risk normalising this completely unacceptable behaviour.
4. Recognising misogyny hate crime could prevent much more serious crimes
Earlier this year Helen Voce, Nottingham Women’s Centre CEO pointed out, “misogyny is the soil in which violence against women grows. The same attitudes at the root of sexism and harassment are the same attitudes that drive more serious domestic and sexual violence.”
As such, by classifying misogyny as a hate crime enables the police to deal robustly with the root cause of violence against women.
5. Police under resourcing: this is not a matter of deserving or not deserving
It’s dangerous to classify some crimes as more deserving than others. Harassment, groping, stalking and assault are all crimes. Yet, women are being told to accept it as normal, put up with comments and accept that they will be heckled and threatened… it shouldn’t be a case that women are told that harassment is part of life and not worth being investigated.
It’s not a matter of deserving or not deserving, this is a matter of funding our police services properly so that everyone will be listened to and protected by the law, but also of Police Forces take the issue seriously.