Wolf-whistling at women should be classed as a hate crime, says Labour MP

Posted On: 
6th March 2018

Wolf-whistling and catcalling at women in the street should be made a hate crime, a Labour MP has said.

Melanie Onn insists that the move is not heavy handed.
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Melanie Onn said new laws should be introduced to make it clear that all forms of misogyny are unacceptable in modern society.

Other offences which would be covered by the legislation would include sexual harassment on public transport and taking secret pictures up women's skirts.

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Speaking as she prepares to lead a debate on the issue at Westminster, the shadow housing minister told the Grimsby Telegraph: "As the nature of harassment and sex discrimination changes, so must the laws which govern it. If street harassment and continued sex discrimination has no place in our society, let us have laws which fully and properly reflect that.

“This is why I am calling on the Government to extend the current five strands of hate crime to include misogyny,” she added.

Ms Onn said that changing the law would allow police forces to formally log incidents, meaning that women would have "greater confidence that their concerns will be taken seriously".

“Laws are instrumental in changing attitudes, setting the bar for expectations of treatment and behaviour..

"In my experience, the first thing you do in that situation is doubt yourself that it is even happening. And even when you know it is, you don’t know if the perpetrator will react aggressively if you do confront them about it.

"This could also include someone who catcalls a woman in the street or follows a woman out of a shop to chat them up when it is unwanted. I think these are warning signs and this change would give women the confidence to report these things."

The Grimsby MP defended accusations that the approach was heavy-handed, saying that women who were not concerned about being approached would not be forced to make a complaint.