MPs are back from their holidays, as parliament reconvened after its 6-week break — and they’ve hit the ground running, particularly where women’s rights are concerned.
They’ve just approved the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill — which is the one that includes a ban on upskirting — and it will now be considered by the House of Lords.
But out of the debate around that bill, another great potential legislative change has been born.
During the discussion around criminalising upskirting in England and Wales (because it’s already a crime in Scotland), Labour MP Stella Creasy tabled a suggested change to the bill.
Creasy reporteldy wanted an amendment that would mean judges could take into account whether people convicted of hate crimes against women should get more serious sentences if misogyny was also an aggravating factor, according to the BBC.
These words mean so much to so many in our society who spend their lives in fear - thank you to all those who helped make the case for change @SBSisters@stonewalluk@CitizensUK@fawcettsociety@TellMamaUK@DimensionsUK@SolaceWomensAid@RESPOND_UK#handsoffamd7pic.twitter.com/CwTeFSiQlv— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) September 5, 2018
Justice minister Lucy Frazer said that, while she sympathised with the view, the Voyeurism Bill wasn’t the right place for it. She pledged that ministers would launch a review into hate crime, and the extent of the coverage of existing laws.
“We, as a government, are concerned our hate crime legislation is up to date and consistent,” she said. “This review will include how protected characteristics, including sex and gender characteristics, should be considered by new or existing hate crime law.”
With that pledge in place, Creasy withdrew her suggested amendment. Now, that review will get underway.
“For the first time we are now saying as a country that misogyny is not a part of life, it is something that shouldn’t be tolerated, and it is something we are going to tackle,” said Creasy.
“We have just sent a message to every young woman in this country that we are on their side,” she added, describing it as a “big step towards calling time on street harassment.”
"It's about that small group of men in our society who think women are their play things."— ITV News (@itvnews) September 5, 2018
MP Stella Creasy explains why she wants misogyny to become a hate crime https://t.co/E729eSRa4upic.twitter.com/ZXndo1wts2
According to the BBC, crimes that could be covered include sexual assault, indecent exposure, groping, taking unwanted photographs, upskirting, online abuse, following a woman home, whistling, sexually explicit language, threatening/aggressive/intimidating behaviour, and unwanted sexual advances.
The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening, after a previous effort was blocked by Conservative backbencher Sir Christopher Chope.
The bill was sparked by a campaign by activist Gina Martin, who launched the #StopSkirtingTheIssue campaign after she experienced upskirting at a London music festival last year. You can read our interview with Gina Martin about her campaign here.
Martin hailed the misogyny review as a “really good thing” and a “good result for feminism and equality.”
“The hope is that it [misogynistic crime] is taken more seriously,” she said, reported the Evening Standard. “I hope it affects a real societal change on a number of levels.”
“I think every woman at some point has experienced misogyny,” she added.
In Nottinghamshire, police have been recording misogynistic behaviour as either hate crime or hate incidents since 2016, depending on if a crime is committed, according to the BBC.
Misogyny is defined as "dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women."
According to a report released in July, with research carried out by the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, there is support for such a move — and Creasy wants it rolled out across the country.
“The policy should be rolled out nationally to increase publicity and reporting — there is clear support for the policy from both women and men in the general public and from victims who have reported misogyny hate crime,” it said, reported the Evening Standard.