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10 May, 2017

Misogyny recognised as a hate crime in North Yorkshire

From Wednesday 10 May 2017 North Yorkshire Police will recognise incidents carried out by men and boys targeted at women and girls, simply because of their gender, as misogyny hate crime.

Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; sexually graphic and explicit obscene language; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission.

To help outline what misogyny hate crime is, North Yorkshire Police has worked alongside women from York St John University and have made a short film which captures women talking about their personal experiences of misogynistic behaviour, how it made them feel and their reaction to the fact that is behaviour is to be recognised and recorded by police.

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, who welcomed the news, believes that the new measure will send a strong message to women and girls that the police will take their concerns seriously and encourage them to come forward.

She said: “North Yorkshire is the second police force to introduce this measure and having seen the reaction from elsewhere, I am sure there will be people who think this is an example of political correctness ‘gone mad’. However, I’d ask them to pause and think about the impact on the woman and girls bearing the brunt of such behaviour.  Many feel they have to change the way they dress, the routes that they walk and other day-to-day tasks that should be carried out without fear, worry or intimidation.

“From talking to students and members of my Youth Commission, I also know young women in particular feel strongly about this issue, so I hope that police services around the country follow suit. However, at the moment there is a gap in the law as crimes fuelled by the hatred of women are not treated the same way as other types of hate crime. For example, if you are prosecuted for a racially motivated hate crime, ‘race’ is recognised as an aggravating factor which can attract a harsher sentence. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a misogyny related hate crime. So whilst I fully support North Yorkshire Police, I do feel that action should take be taken to ensure that all crimes fuelled by hatred have equal standing under the law.”

Speaking about the decision to recognise misogyny as a hate crime and the film, Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward said:

“I’m both pleased and proud that North Yorkshire Police has taken the steps to be the second force in the UK to recognise misogyny as a hate crime. The women who appear in the film are representative of all the women we have spoken to throughout this process. Their experiences are proof that this behaviour is something that every woman has experienced and been affected by at some point in their lives.

“The misogynistic behaviour of some has made these women feel vulnerable and intimidated when going about their daily lives, just walking to work or going shopping. All of these incidents were completely unwanted and uninvited and resulted in the women changing their daily behaviour; re-planning their routes to work, questioning themselves about what they wear and taking steps to not to be victimised again, when it was never their fault in the first place.

“Hate in all its forms is wrong and North Yorkshire Police will take all the necessary steps to protect our communities and ensure the women and girls of our region feel safe to go about their daily business, without fear of being targeted simply because they are a woman.

“I encourage all victims of all types of hate crime to come forward and report it, either to the police on 101 or to Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625. You will be listened to and supported.”

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society which is the UK’s largest membership charity for women’s rights, said:

“We really welcome North Yorkshire Police’s commitment to tackling the harassment and abuse that women experience every single day. Fawcett has been calling for police forces across the country to make this change, and it is great to see North Yorkshire following Nottinghamshire in leading the way in the fight against misogynistic harassment and hate crime.

“Everyone in North Yorkshire now has a clear signal that sexist abuse is not acceptable, and a way to report it when they experience it. Misogyny is a hate crime – it is about time that we treated it as one.”

Nottinghamshire Police released this video alongside their announcement to record misogyny as a hate crime. “Because I’m a woman” puts misogyny into perspective. Women talking about daily harassment and physical assaults that they believed they had to live with.