Police in UK Precinct Become the First to Recognize Misogyny as a Hate Crime
Viral| | By Lauren Boudreau
The Nottinghamshire Police Department in central England has just become the first in the country to recognize misogyny as a hate crime. The new law means that women can now report street harassment or abuse that might not be considered an actual crime and have it investigated by the police.
Chief Constable Sue Fish said that she hopes this will make women feel safe in the county, according to BBC News.
“What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing,” she told BBC. “Nottinghamshire Police is committed to taking misogynistic hate crime seriously and encourages anyone who is affected by it to contact us without hesitation.”
A misogynistic hate crime is defined by the police as such: “Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behavior targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”
BBC reports that the idea of this law was first discussed at the Nottinghamshire Safer for Women Conference last year, where in an ironic turn of events, a news anchor was harassed while reporting on the conference outside the event.
Melanie Jeffs, center manager at Nottingham Women’s Centre told the BBC, “Recording this as a hate crime will give us a detailed picture of how often, when and where it is happening. It has been very difficult to build that picture before but we will now get detailed data to analyze.”
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by End Violence Against Women, 85 percent of U.K. women aged 18-24 had experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places in 2016. In the U.S., another survey found that 65 percent of all women had experienced street harassment in 2014.
While Nottinghamshire may be the only county in England to recognize misogynistic behavior as a hate crime, a few European countries have similar laws. Portugal made street harassment a crime in 2015, while Belgium made sexist speech, either in-person or online, punishable by law in 2014.
Jeffs concluded that, “Showing that the police take it seriously will also give people the confidence to come forward and report offences.”