28th February 2022

Today the House of Commons voted against making misogyny a hate crime, leaving many women feeling disappointed and frustrated. Because MPs, whipped by the Government, voted against this amendment the law still fails to recognise how crimes targeted at women, because they are women, are driven by misogyny. Changing this is a crucial step in tackling violence against women and girls.    

Not including misogyny within the hate crime framework ignores the experiences of women who are subject to hatred based on multiple factors. Over the past few years as we have campaigned for this change, we have heard from many women who have told us their stories of being harassed and targeted while going about their daily lives. We have heard from Muslim women who have had their hijabs ripped off on public transport, from black women who experience racialised and sexualised abuse on the streets every day and from lesbian women who have been threatened with 'corrective rape'. This is just the tip of the iceberg and all of these experiences are misogynistic – but this misogyny is rendered invisible in our current legal and policing responses.  

The Government points to the fact that the Law Commission did not recommend making misogyny a hate crime in their recent review. We had proposed that domestic violence and sexual assault should be excluded from the misogyny hate crime rules, because they are inherently misogynistic, and hate crime requires proof of motivation. The Commission felt that with this “carve-out” the law would be too limited, but we strongly disagree. The vast amount of misogynistic, criminal abuse that women receive online or in person still needs to be recognised in law.  

Misogyny is so normalised in our society that women and girls are regularly subject to abuse and harassment. Making misogyny a hate crime would send a strong public message that challenges those attitudes – making our society a safer place.  

While we welcome the Government’s consideration of creating a new offence of street harassment as a step in the right direction, it alone is not enough. It fails to consider the underlying drivers of violence against women and girls and runs the risk of women being left invisible in hate crime law.  More needs to be done!  

Despite this set back, Fawcett will continue to campaign for change with the knowledge that, more than ever before, we are backed by a groundswell of growing voices calling for change and that there is an increasing coalition of cross-party support.  

To find out more about Fawcett's campaigning history on making misogyny a hate crime, you can read our blog here.