'Calling on government to recognise misogyny as a hate crime'

A vigil on Clapham Common for Sarah Everard

A vigil on Clapham Common for Sarah Everard - Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

If you ask a woman or a girl that you know if they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted by a man, sadly the answer is most likely going to be yes.

We’re leading on work to change this and this is also why we’re calling on government to recognise misogyny as a hate crime. We want to send a really strong message that misogynistic behaviour is not and never will be acceptable.

Misogyny is prejudice against women and girls and can take many different forms, including assault and physical violence but also inappropriate behaviour such as catcalling, wolf-whistling or "dressing room banter".

A lot of people might think this type of behaviour is harmless, but it can have a real impact on women and girls, making us feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and objectified – this isn’t right and it’s up to everyone to call this behaviour out when we see it.

Camden councillor Nadia Shah. Picture: Camden Council

Camden councillor Nadia Shah. Picture: Camden Council - Credit: Camden Council

I recently led women’s safety walkabouts with the police, to hear first-hand how women feel so we can improve safety in the public realm. So far, we’ve made practical improvements to lighting and installed more CCTV, but we also want our approach to be on tackling these issues at its root by changing male behaviours and attitudes towards women. This includes getting the support from male allies which is vital if we want to make a real difference.

A study by UK Women UK earlier this year found that 97% of young women surveyed said they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, which is shocking, but what’s heartbreaking is I know so many of these types of incidents often go unreported.

By making misogyny a hate crime, we can help tackle the issues of underreporting as it will reassure women that they will get the right support from authorities as well as giving police and judges more powers when sentencing to ensure those who harass or assault women are given the proper punishment. Through this work, we can also get a clearer picture of women’s and girls’ experiences of misogyny and be better able to respond to this behaviour.

We’re asking everyone to back this campaign and we’ll also soon be reaching out to women and girls to hear more about their experiences. To keep updated on our work and find ways to take part in it, please visit camden.gov.uk/womens-safety.

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Together, we will end gender-based violence and prevent it from taking place for future generations.

Cllr Nadia Shah (Lab) is cabinet member for safer communities, Camden Council