Nottinghamshire Police made history in 2016 by becoming the first force in the country to recognise misogyny as a hate crime. The additional category applies to a range of incidents reported to the police, from street harassment through to physical intrusions on women’s space. This is defined as:
Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.
The move towards this change in policy began in October 2014 with the launch of the Nottingham Citizens ‘No Place for Hate’ report, which recommended that further work should be undertaken to ensure that crimes motivated by misogyny could be picked up in police crime recording systems.
From that point forward we worked in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Police to better understand the types of harassment and abuse that women face on a regular basis, and how best to address this issue. During this time, many women came forward to share their stories, including women who have been grabbed by men in public spaces, suffered abuse online or have experienced having sexist verbal harassment shouted at them in the street. We’ve included examples of some of the things we heard (uncensored) at the bottom of this page and you can also hear women talking about their experiences in the video that we have produced in partnership with the police – Because I am a Woman
The new misogyny category acts as a flag or ‘qualifier’ on the incident log, rather than defining the incident itself. The offence is not changed – so for example, an incident of anti-social behaviour would become anti-social behaviour with a ‘misogyny hate crime qualifier’. It is important to understand that no new crimes are created as a result of this policy change – despite what you may have read in the media.
We were disappointed that some in the mainstream media tried to trivialise this initiative by claiming that we are ‘banning wolf-whistling’ or ‘criminalising cat-calling’. Not only did this completely miss the point but it also trivialises the experiences of women who have shared their stories of being intimidated and frightened by the actions of men around them.
Let’s be clear: rape and death threats are not harmless fun, yet we have heard directly from women in our city that these threats are all too often the very next step if they don’t respond in the “right” way to being cat-called, followed or groped. All of this is summed up very well in this article by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.
Other excellent articles have been published in our local magazine LeftLion and as far afield as America (self.com) and New Zealand (stuff.co.nz). Many people have called for a national roll out of this work – something that is now being called for through a petition on Change.org.
We spent the summer supporting the police by providing misogyny hate crime training to its officers and staff – a vital part of this work. Nottinghamshire Police hope that through recording incidents in this way they will be able to:
- Raise awareness of the seriousness of these incidences and encourage women to report.
- Gather better intelligence to disrupt activities/perpetrators.
- Better manage risk and support women affected.
- Reduce women’s fear of crime in public spaces which is frequently informed by their fear of sexual assault (informed in large part by experiences of street harassment).
We encourage anyone who has witnessed or been a victim of a misogynistic incident to report it to the police by calling 101. You can also report online via the True Vision website.
If you are receiving abuse on social media, click here to download our guide to removing unwanted content.
If you need support, please contact us so that we can direct you to relevant support agencies. We are also interested to hear your experiences of reporting to Nottinghamshire Police so that this can continue to inform our work with them.
Warning – the image below features language that women hear every day – and may be distressing.