Really pleased to see that more Police forces are considering recognising misogyny as a hate crime, following Nottingham’s pioneering crackdown against sexual abuse.
Nottingham’s trial names misogyny as a hate crime, alongside other forms of abuse which are motivated by prejudice, such as Islamophobia and antisemitism. It means that the Police will investigate instances even if they are not considered to be a crime. The trial has led to 20 investigations being launched in one month, from verbal harassment to sexual assault.
So why is this so important? If we are to really tackle high rates of gender based violence we need to challenge the culture that gives rise to it. As revealed by Operation Yewtree, there is a culture of silence and impunity that permits sexual abuse to take place. This is underpinned by a notion of male entitlement to sexual activity, derived from commonplace ideas that sexual prowess and promiscuity is normative and natural male behaviour. These ideas not only enable sexual abuse to take place but they also encourage a view that victims are to blame for it, further compounding the culture of silence and stopping them from coming forward.
It’s easy to think of instances of sexual abuse, from cat calling in the street to marital rape, as isolated incidents. However, as the Every Day Sexism Project has demonstrated, when viewed collectively, it is evident that it’s a widespread, systemic issue. It’s also easy to perceive instances of verbal abuse as ‘harmless fun’. Again when understood as instances of misogyny however, it’s easy to see how these activities are connected to gender based violence, how they build an environment of fear and intimidation.
By taking a more proactive approach to tackling misogyny, therefore, Nottingham Police and other forces which follow suit, are sending a clear message that no instances will be tolerated, enabling victims to come forward and ending the culture of silence and acceptance which sustains gender based violence.
“We know it’s a big issue that happens on a daily basis – it’s part of the everyday wallpaper of women’s lives. This is about raising awareness, making women feel that they don’t have to put up with it – and that’s very empowering. Already women are ringing through to the police saying: ‘I want this to be recorded as a misogynistic hate crime’.”