Fawcett has campaigned for misogyny to be included within the hate crime framework since 2018 when our Sex Discrimination Law Review called for its inclusion in both recording and sentencing frameworks. 

The Newlove Amendment to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill – which passed with a great majority, and had cross-party support, in the House of Lords – will mean that the behaviours women experience because they are women will finally be recognised and recorded for the misogyny that underpins them.

MPs will soon be voting on the Newlove Amendment to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill to make misogyny a hate crime. In this blog, we want to lay out what this means, why it matters for women and how you can help make it happen.

Zaimal Azad, Senior Campaigns Officer

What is hate crime and how does misogyny fit?

Hate crime refers to criminal offences which are motivated by prejudice against elements of a person’s identity. Crimes which are categorised as such can lead to tougher or ‘enhanced’ sentencing, in recognition of the additional harm that is caused when someone is targeted for who they are.

Currently this protection exists for the categories of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity. Including misogyny within this framework would mean that the behaviours women experience every day because of their gender, whether on the street, in public spaces or online, would be recognised for the discrimination and power imbalances that underpin them. It will not create new additional categories of crime – instead it will mean that existing crimes against women are recorded and responded to in a way that captures the root causes of these behaviours.

Having misogyny as a strand of hate crime would also mean that the intersectional experiences of women from minoritised communities – who experience hatred and prejudice based on multiple factors – are fully recognised.  For example, a Muslim woman who has her headscarf pulled off in a hate motivated attack is experiencing both religiously and misogyny motivated harm on top of the harm caused by the assault itself, and that must be recognised in law.

Including misogyny within the hate crime framework is not a silver bullet for all forms of violence against women and girls. Many more actions need to be taken to address the multiple forms of misogyny which are prevalent in our society, and we are supporting the call for a new public harassment law. But we believe that there is space within the hate crime framework to include hostility towards women, and that this will be a valuable additional tool in recognising and responding to women’s experiences of harassment and violence.

The journey to misogyny being a hate crime

It has been a long road to this point, in getting our laws to recognise the misogyny women face every day. The Misogyny Hate Crime policy was first piloted by Nottinghamshire Police in 2016, after campaigning by Nottingham Women’s Centre and Nottingham Citizens. In 2018, Fawcett’s review of existing legislation to protect women’s rights – our Sex Discrimination Law Review – recommended that misogyny be included in the hate crime framework, and we have been campaigning to make this happen ever since.

We have worked with a diverse coalition of partners including Citizens UK, Refuge, Jo Cox Foundation, Hope Not Hate, Stonewall, Young Women’s Trust, Tell MAMA, Ren Cassin, and others, to move this forward. Together, and through the support of Fawcett members, we have worked with MPs and peers from across the political spectrum to explore different ways of getting misogyny recognised in hate crime legislation.

A review of hate crime laws by the Law Commission provided a possible opportunity and we worked hard to ensure that the Law Commission heard from as many women as possible. However, the Law Commission took a different approach based on a narrow understanding of the kinds of harassment and violence women experience and which left out a recognition of the very different experiences of hate that women from different backgrounds experience. Our statement and response to this can be read here.

The tragic and unnecessary death of Sarah Everard in March 2021 was a pivotal moment. Women across the country came together in grief and in solidarity, sharing their experiences and calling for change. On the back of our continued pressure, the government agreed to trial recording of misogyny motivated hate crime from autumn 2021 – a promise that they have yet to fulfil.

This brings us to the current moment in time. The House of Lords recently voted to make misogyny a hate crime by passing an amendment brought forward by Baroness Newlove to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. On 28th February, this amendment will be in the Commons for a vote – the final hurdle in our campaign to make misogyny explicitly unacceptable in law.

You can help to make misogyny a hate crime 

However, to make this change finally happen, we need you to make your voice heard. You can be part of the movement by taking 30 seconds to write to your MP, asking them to vote for the Newlove Amendment when it reaches the Commons here.

Join us in standing up for women’s safety and for the right of all women to have the diversity of their experiences recognised.