‘Misogyny Must Be Made A Hate Crime To Ensure Everyone Can Live Free From Fear’

MP Stella Creasy is calling for an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill today.

Stella Creasy

by Stella Creasy |
Updated on

Recently,a national newspaper put the views of a perpetrator of domestic abuse on their front page, promoting his lack of regret for hitting his then partner. Burglars or fraudsters would never be given a similar platform to justify themselves. Time and time again, the abuse of women is downplayed as if it’s just a part of life. Speaking up against it makes you someone who can’t take a joke - or who must hate men.

Such violence against women doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens in a society where misogyny is so widespread we accept the idea it was ‘just a slap’ is a reasonable defence for abuse.

Currently within the law women are protected from abuse on the basis of their sex in the workplace, but not in their homes or on the street. That means that those who persistently target women often commit crimes repeatedly before action is taken because the link between their offending isn’t made. Whilst every victim of domestic abuse deserves support, women are disproportionately at risk. One study of 96 cases recorded by the police found that men are significantly more likely to be repeat perpetrators and significantly more likely than women to use physical violence, threats, and harassment. In a six year tracking period the majority of recorded male perpetrators (83%) had at least two incidents of recorded abuse, with one man having 52 repeat incidents.

Treating misogyny as a hate crime – just as we do racist abuse or crimes motivated by a hatred of someone’s sexuality- wouldn’t create any new offences, but it would help make sure the police and the courts take these crimes seriously. It would require the police to record data on these incidents and patterns of offending.

The majority of recorded male perpetrators had at least two incidents of recorded abuse, with one man having 52 repeat incidents.

Already several police forces around the country are taking this approach and it has changed the way in which they then understand and address violence against women. So too it supports an intersectional understanding of the abuse women faces. No longer would Jewish women, Muslim women, disabled women and women of colour, be asked to identify only one aspect of their identities when reporting a crime.

Hate crime laws also ensure increased sentences to those who target people based on their race and religion. The Law Commission is currently consulting on extending this way of working to misogyny too, which could see increased sentencing for those who repeatedly target women for abuse and harassment. Extending our hate crime laws to cover misogyny in this way would send a clear message that such incidents are not ‘part of life’ and should be reported to the police.

The government has called the Domestic Abuse Bill a ‘landmark’ moment. To tackle violence against women and girls, we must also recognize hostility towards women and girls generates a culture in which violence and abuse is tolerated, excused and repeated. Changing that means challenging not only individual acts of abuse but the very roots of the culture which enables it. With 1 in 4 women in the UK affected by domestic abuse, and 66% of girls receiving unwanted sexual attention on our streets, we need to be radical in how we confront the culture which says that violence towards women and girls is not a priority.

Amendment 84 to this bill put forward by a cross party group of MPs would require all police forces to do this and to assess how it influences the experience of domestic abuse. It has the support of organisations working on both womens’ safety – such as Refuge, Women’s Aid and Southall Black Sisters - and hate crime- Citizens UK, Tell Mama, Hope not hate, the Jo Cox Foundation.

Now it just needs you- please ask your MP to back Amendment 84 to the Domestic Abuse Bill and ensure everyone can live free from fear.

READ MORE: 'The Sun's JK Rowling Front Page Shows Nothing But Contempt For Domestic Abuse Survivors Like Me'

READ MORE: The Rough Sex Defence Is 'Post-Mortem Abuse' - MPs Debate The Domestic Abuse Bill

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