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Our society is currently letting down women and girls

3 min read

Making misogyny a hate crime would cement a new mindset into future generations of men and boys that every day, casual sexism and misogyny is unacceptable.

Violence by men against women and girls is far too prevalent in our society. Too many women and girls feel unsafe walking down their own streets. 

To protect women and girls, misogyny must be made a hate crime and treated as severely as crimes driven by racial or religious hatred. This sends a message that sexism and misogyny are not acceptable in our society.

To accompany this, we need better relationship education in schools and training for police, prosecutors and judges. 

Our society is currently letting down women and girls. Disrespect is still culturally acceptable in large parts of our society. Harassment, abuse and violence are all too common.

Earlier this year, the tragic murder of Sarah Everard thrust the fragility of women’s safety onto the national stage. Sarah’s murder sent shockwaves across the UK and the days that followed brought thousands of stories from women about their experience of harassment and assault. Strikingly, many described their stories as not taken seriously. 

Too many women are not believed when they report violence and harassment and too often the assumption is that she is herself responsible. 

It is deeply disheartening that perpetrators are not being punished for the pain they inflict on women

Sarah Everard’s murder hit us all hard because it could have been any woman. It could have been me, you, our friends, sisters, mothers or daughters. 

Beneath this horrific killing is a culture that has allowed too many men to perpetrate too much violence, abuse, harassment, and misogyny against women. 

The system is failing women and girls and we need to tackle the root of the issue. 

On average, a woman is killed by a man in the UK every three days. 600,000 women are sexually assaulted each year, yet just one in six report it to the police. Worryingly, 50,000 women reported being raped last year but just 1,400 rapists were convicted. 97 per cent of women in the UK have also experienced sexual harassment. 

Recently, Everyone’s Invited named nearly 3,000 schools following claims of sexual assault, rape and harassment. An organisation committed to eradicating rape culture, they have collated over 51,000 testimonies further revealing the extent to which women and girls are subject to harassment and abuse, from very young ages. This is further proof of today’s distorted culture. 

By protecting women from misogyny under hate crime laws, the culture that is fuelling this violence will be starved of its supply. 

The government’s recent rape report lays bare how badly the criminal justice system is failing women. Some of what the government has promised is obviously welcomed but these promises fall short of what is needed. 

Sadly, the government has not announced new investment, nor have they pledged to take action on the hostile environment which stops migrant women coming forward for fear of being referred to Immigration Enforcement. Similarly, they have not ratified the Istanbul Convention which set binding targets to support women who have been raped or abused. 

Last week a report found that three-quarters of domestic abuse cases fail to end in charges. It is deeply disheartening that perpetrators, fuelled by misogyny, are not being punished for the pain they inflict on women. 

Everything must change. 

That is why I led the campaign to ban upskirting, which we successfully pushed through Parliament. And it’s why, when the Liberal Democrats were in government, we outlawed revenge porn. Now we are leading the campaign to make misogyny a hate crime to prevent violence fuelled by today's culture against women and girls. 

Making misogyny a hate crime would cement a new mindset into future generations of men and boys that every day, casual sexism and misogyny is unacceptable.


Wera Hobhouse is the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath.

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