#NotACompliment: Encourage England & Wales Police to include misogyny as a hate crime.
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Recently friends told me about their experiences of sexual harassment: one told me how she was threatened with rape walking home, another told me at 13 she got so scared by harassment on the school bus she refused to take it again. These stories are awful but not unusual, almost everyone I know has one. It worries me is that as a society we’ve come to think of incidents like this as ‘normal’.
Nottinghamshire Police have recently taken the revolutionary step of expanding their definition of hate crime to include misogyny and harassment of women and it has been such a success that a few other Police Forces (Devon and Cornwall, Durham, Lincolnshire) have sent delegates to Nottingham because they want to try it out too.
I think this is a great start but it’s time the rest of the country properly follows Nottingham’s lead.
Most women, and some men, will face gender-based harassment. A recent poll run by the group End Violence Against Women found that 85% of women aged 18-24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention and 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching. And it's not just adults bearing the brunt of this abuse - the anti-street harassment group Hollaback found that most experienced catcalling for the first time between the ages 11 and 17. We are letting our young girls down on a national scale.
Stopping street harassment matters, as it is (consciously or unconsciously) used as a tool to intimidate (mostly) women and girls who are exercising any of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers determine what is defined as a “Hate Crime”. This definition which is applied to all forces in the UK. Police forces by region, if they choose to, have the power to add ‘regionally specific’ things to that definition. That is what Nottingham has done. Rather than ask all 32 police forces to do this, it should be included in the original definition therefore automatically apply to all forces. Afterall misogyny isn’t a regional problem, it’s a national one. It would also save time, effort and resources trying to change them one by one.
That’s why I am calling on the CPS and the Association of Chief Police Officers to take gendered harassment seriously and expand the country's definition of Hate Crime to include misogyny.
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