To fight something, raise awareness, and tell the public to take it seriously you first have to name it. Recording misogyny as a hate crime in Nottinghamshire gave various different unwanted actions a single unified name which made a real difference to the confidence women felt in the county.
Women described “walking taller” knowing police would take them seriously when they reported incidents and in some cases were able to challenge the misogyny directly knowing the police would have their backs. The Law Commission states that it recognises “the very real problem of violence, abuse and harassment of women and girls in England and Wales” – but what is being done to tackle it?
Nottingham Women’s Centre believes that recording misogyny as hate crime helps to record and bear witness to the whole intersectional experience of what male harassment feels like to a woman. If this was linked to increased sentencing then it could act as a deterrent.
We welcome the suggestion that a new offence of Public Sexual Harassment be introduced, as well as another one about stirring up hatred on the grounds of sex or gender, but any legislation needs to be part of a much wider effort to address the fact that violence against women and girls that is rooted in educating boys and men and changing societal norms around this issue.
In Nottinghamshire, we’ll continue to work with Equation and other partners through the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner to tackle misogyny at strategy level as well as on the ground.
Together with The Fawcett Society and nearly twenty leading women’s rights and hate crime organisations, we have released a joint public response to the Law Commission review of Hate Crime which you can find on The Fawcett Society’s website.
“Women and girls have waited too long to be equally protected and will continue to fight for this.”