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Monday, 09 July 2018

Campaign groups urge police record abuse and harassment of women as hate crime

Written by Ryan Hooper

Police forces across the country are being asked to record abuse and harassment of women as a hate crime.

Campaign groups want constabularies in England and Wales to follow the example of Nottinghamshire Police in expanding the scope of hate crime offending to include misogyny.

An open letter co-signed by the Fawcett Society, civil society alliance Citizens UK, senior faith leaders and non-governmental organisations asks the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) to vote to record misogyny as a hate crime nationwide at its upcoming meeting on July 11.

Campaigners say the likes of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements highlight the need to tackle the abuse, harassment and problematic behaviour that many women are subject to, which they say can create "a culture of impunity in society, leading to more severe crimes".

So far only a handful of forces have followed Nottinghamshire Police's lead since it introduced the measures in 2016 - applying to incidents ranging from street harassment through to unwanted physical approaches.

Helen Voce, from Nottingham Women's 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, chief executive of the 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."

Sajid Mohammed, chief executive of Nottingham-based charity Himmah 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."

Sarah Green, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: "If recording this abuse as a hate crime is to be rolled out across the UK, it is crucial that police work in partnership with the local community including local women's groups from the start.

"And on a broader level, we need to talk about how we prevent this behaviour in the first place through schools work, and through having men and boys challenge each other about its acceptability."

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland annually monitor five strands of hate crime.

"Police chiefs will be presented with a paper that asks them to consider the case for monitoring gender-based hate crime in the same way."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Pixabay.