Stella Creasy: To Make Sure Our Streets Are Safe For Everyone It’s Time To Recognise Misogyny As A Hate Crime

As the internet fills with women sharing their experiences of fear, harassment and abuse, the Labour MP, who has led calls for this, says we need to close a gap in hate crime legislation.


by Stella Creasy |
Updated on

Misogyny dominates the daily lives of women around the world. If you have ever walked home with your keys in your hand or asked a friend to wait with you at the bus stop. Ever been assaulted or attacked - on or offline - with a diatribe about your gender. Been targeted for who you are, but told to 'get over it'. Our moment is now to change this and make sure everyone is free to be who they are without having to live in fear.

I want all women to have the freedom to be who they are, when they are walking down the street, at home, or online.

Recently, the Law Commission published a consultation paper into their review of hate crime. Their recommendation is loud and clear – a new protected characteristic of sex or gender should be introduced. You may have assumed that this already existed, along with the other categories of race, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender status, but there has always been a gap in this legislation. That’s why a coalition of over 30 inspiring organisations, including Citizens UK, Refuge, Hope Not Hate, Stonewall, the Fawcett Society and more, and myself have been campaigning to introduce misogyny to hate crime law for the past few years. It will be debated in the House of Lords next week and the campaign is working its way through Parliament.

We already know that it works to improve women's safety and tackling crime. Seven police forces across the country, starting with Nottinghamshire, have pioneered this policy and found resounding success. Hate crime doesn’t make anything illegal that isn’t already, but instead ensures that abuse rooted in discrimination is taken more seriously. Recognising misogyny in the criminal justice system would allow courts to take this into account in sentencing crimes. Recording this motivation by the police means they can better track and prevent the crimes it causes. Yet this isn't just about criminal law - its also about the cultural change taking this seriously generates and the message it sends perpetrators that hostility towards women will not be tolerated.

We want all women to have the freedom to be who they are, when they are walking down the street, at home, or online. Given cases of sexual harassment and domestic abuse have soared over lockdown, it's never been more important to act. With the Law Commission on side now, we are on the cusp of huge change.

The debate returns to the House of Lords next week - follow @stellacreasy, @fawcettsociety and @citizensUK for ways to make your voice heard.

READ MORE: Online Hate Crime To Be Taken Seriously, But There’s A Catch

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