19:36, September 05 37 0 theguardian.com

2018-09-05 19:36:05
Review brings misogyny as a hate crime a step closer

Campaigners have welcomed an “amazing” victory in the fight against sexist street harassment after the government announced a comprehensive review of hate crime legislation, which will consider whether to recognise misogyny as a hate crime.

The Labour MP Stella Creasy had put forward an amendment to the upskirting bill, which was debated in the Commons on Wednesday evening, that would add misogyny as an aggravating factor, enabling courts to consider it when sentencing an offender and requiring police forces to record it.

Creasy hoped that this would be the first step towards recognising misogyny as a hate crime, just as offences motivated by hostility based on race, religion, trans identity, sexual orientation or disability already are.

But the MP agreed to withdraw her amendment after the government indicated the fully funded review with far wider scope.

Responding to Wednesday's debate, justice minister Lucy Frazer said: “I will be asking the Law Commission to undertake a review of the coverage and approach of hate crime legislation following their earlier recommendation to do so. This will include how protected characteristics including sex and gender characteristics should be considered by new or existing hate crime law.”

Responding to the announcement, Creasy said: “These amendments to the voyeurism bill were to recognise that upskirting does not happen in a vacuum but an environment where women face repeated form s of harassment by those who are hostile to them as women: 45% of women have been sexually harassed in a public place, 63% of women have changed their behaviour as a result of street harassment. Men and women need to be free and safe to walk the streets.”

“Today the government committed to carrying out a full review into all hate crime law, including misogyny – this goes further than the original amendment, and it’s a big step towards calling time on street harassment and to saying misogyny isn’t an inevitable part of life women should put up with or all men commit, but something that damages our society and each of us can make sure is tackled.”

The review follows a longrunning campaign, led by Citizens UK, to tackle street harassment of women by recognising it as a misogynist hate crime.

The group Nottingham Citizens prompted their local police force to implement the first trial of this policy in 2014. In July, research revealed overwhelming public support after the two-year pilot scheme by Nottinghamshire police, which became the first force in the UK to record public harassment of women – such as groping, using explicit language or taking unwanted photographs – as well as more serious offences such as assault as a misogyny hate crime.

Martha Jephcott, who led the Nottingham campaign, described Wednesday’s announcement as “amazing”. “We started working on this four and a half years ago in Nottingham, and it is surreal now to see it debated in the House of Commons.”

Since the Nottinghamshire experiment, three other police forces – North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and Avon and Somerset – have introduced similar schemes, while campaigners continue to lobby Manchester and London forces.

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