Make misog­yny a hate crime say cam­paign­ers

Western Daily Press - - UK & World News - TOM HORTON

MISOG­YNY should be made a hate crime, a group of MPs and cam­paign­ers have said. MPs Jo Swin­son, Stella Creasy and Peter Bot­tom­ley, for­mer home sec­re­tary Jac­qui Smith, women’s rights cam­paigner He­len Pankhurst and Not­ting­hamshire Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Paddy Tip­ping are among those to have signed a let­ter, sent by gen­der equal­ity char­ity the Fawcett So­ci­ety, urg­ing po­lice to help them crim­i­nalise it.

The let­ter was sent to Metropoli­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner Cres­sida Dick and Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs Coun­cil chair Chief Con­sta­ble Sara Thorn­ton.

Sam Smethers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Fawcett So­ci­ety, said: “We have to recog­nise how se­ri­ous misog­yny is. It is at the root of vi­o­lence against women and girls.

“Yet it is so com­mon that we don’t see it. In­stead it is dis­missed and triv­i­alised.

“By nam­ing it as a hate crime we will take that vi­tal first step.”

Anal­y­sis of crime fig­ures by the Fawcett So­ci­ety es­ti­mated there were around 67,000 in­ci­dents of hate crime based on gen­der last year – with 57,000 of those be­ing tar­geted at women, the char­ity said. Ms Smethers added: “This data should be a wake-up call to all of us, but it is just the tip of the ice­berg.

“Women are rou­tinely tar­geted with abuse and threats on­line and in our streets.

“We know that black women, Mus­lim women and Jewish women are par­tic­u­larly af­fected. The way we tackle hate crime must re­flect that.”

In a state­ment re­spond­ing to the let­ter, Chief Con­sta­ble Thorn­ton said record­ing misog­yny as a hate crime “can­not be pri­ori­tised when polic­ing is so stretched”.

She added: “The core polic­ing that the pub­lic tell us they care about most is se­ri­ously stretched.

“We do not have the re­sources to do ev­ery­thing that is de­sir­able and de­serv­ing.

“There are well rea­soned ar­gu­ments for record­ing misog­yny as a hate in­ci­dent, even when no crime has been com­mit­ted, but it can­not be pri­ori­tised when polic­ing is so stretched. Pro­tect­ing women and girls from vi­o­lence, ha­rass­ment and sex­ual or do­mes­tic abuse con­tinue to be pri­or­i­ties for the po­lice.”

Oth­ers who signed the let­ter in­clude the Green Party’s deputy leader Amelia Wo­mack, Women’s Aid chief ex­ec­u­tive Katie Ghose and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Cit­i­zens UK Matthew Bolton.

Ms Ghose said: “Do­mes­tic abuse does not just hap­pen in a cul­tural vac­uum. The every­day sex­ism that women ex­pe­ri­ence daily – from the cat­calls on the street through to be­ing groped and sex­u­ally ha­rassed in pub­lic places – cre­ates a cul­ture where it is ok for men to de­mean women.

“In short, it nor­malises abuse. For far too long, women have not had the con­fi­dence to re­port men’s vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment to the po­lice for fear of not be­ing be­lieved or taken se­ri­ously.

“It is clear that recog­nis­ing misog­yny as a hate crime gives sur­vivors greater con­fi­dence that our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem will treat all forms of vi­o­lence against women and girls more se­ri­ously.”

Hate crimes are those mo­ti­vated by hos­til­ity or prej­u­dice based on a per­sonal char­ac­ter­is­tic.

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