There are growing calls for the Metropolitan Police to classify misogyny as a hate crime amid conversations about the issues of harassment and violence faced by women.
Currently, the Met classifies a hate crime as a criminal offence that is motivated by a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, but crimes specifically targeting women are not recorded as hate crimes.
Many women have this week been sharing their experiences of having to deal with harassment, fear and violence following the disappearance of Sarah Everard, who was last seen walking home in south London last week, and there are now growing calls to treat crimes against women as hate crimes.
One of those calling for the change is Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate running to be Mayor of London, who said that “one of the things we need to see is the treatment of misogyny as a hate crime by the police in London, and under the law”.
Ms Berry said: “The latest developments in the Sarah Everard case are awful. My thoughts are with her family at this time.
“Currently women across our city face abuse and risk every single day. Like every woman in London, I’ve known the fear of being in danger as part of daily life simply because of my gender.
“For other forms of hate, crimes of violence and harassment are recorded and treated with the right gravity and care, and this gap needs to be closed. It will help police and others to see the extent of this problem, tackle perpetrators more appropriately and shed new light on the toxic culture that currently permits a host of harmful behaviour against women, from catcalls to unwanted touching to violence.”
Police forces in Nottinghamshire piloted classifying misogyny as a hate crime in 2016 and Sian Berry said she recommended the Mayor of London do the same the following year.
But Ms Berry said: “Four years later, the Met are still dragging their feet. It isn’t good enough.”
When the issue was brought up in 2018, Met commissioner Cressida Dick said that her priority was to tackle violence in London, agreeing with senior officer Sara Thornton that forces were too stretched to tackle all “desirable and deserving issues”.
The issue is now receiving renewed attention, though, and there are cross-party calls for it to be looked into once more.
Unmesh Desai, Labour’s London Assembly policing and crime spokesperson, today said that recognising misogyny as a hate crime was “a first step” to making London’s streets safer for women.
Mr Desai said: “My thoughts remain with Sarah Everard’s family and loved ones at this time in what are utterly tragic and devastating circumstances.
“We should be clear that in making our streets safer for women and girls, alongside some of the practical measures we can take, the onus should be put upon men to change their behaviour.
“This is why, from City Hall, I have been calling for misogyny to be made a hate crime as a first step towards this. I was pleased to get the Mayor’s backing on my campaign a year ago, and I hope the Law Commission now push forward with making this a reality after their recent consultation.”