Misogyny – A Human Rights Issue

The Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice's independent report on their findings and recommendations.

Annex Three: Insights from beyond Scotland

Misogyny and hate crime frameworks

  • Canada and twenty states in the USA (including Texas and New Jersey) have a motivation category or status for gender or for sex within hate crime frameworks.
  • There are numerous jurisdictions in England that record misogynistic conduct as hate: Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire, Avon and Somerset, Greater Manchester, Surrey, Northamptonshire, Devon and Cornwall.
  • Data from Canada[90] and New Jersey[91] show that despite the inclusion of gender and/or sex in hate crime frameworks, cases reported and convicted are far fewer than for other categories such as race and disability.
  • Evidence from New Jersey[92], Texas[93] and Nottinghamshire[94], England suggests that some police officers and prosecutors are reluctant to enforce new provisions, taking the view that there were already laws in place to deal with violence against women. Further, evidence from these locations reveals a lack of understanding of new initiatives and legislative approaches.
  • The Nottinghamshire programme whereby the Police record misogynistic conduct as hate showed confusion over the meaning of misogyny and what behaviours are included in the definition (see Annex One).
  • All of the findings above point to the importance of properly resourced and sustained implementation measures for new law – involving the right organisations in developing legislation, investing in education, training and public campaigning.

Lessons from Washington DC

In 2018, the Street Harassment Prevention Act[95] was introduced, the first legal measure of its kind in the US. It created a legal definition of harassment, established a community-based Advisory Committee to study street harassment and develop model policies and training and requirements for a public campaign on street harassment. It was defined to focus on prevention and intervention rather than criminalisation.

The Act defines street harassment as:

"…any disrespectful, offensive or threatening statements, gestures or other conduct directed at individuals in a high risk area [e.g. public transport, school, library, mall, sidewalk] without the individual's consent and based on the individual's actual or perceived protected trait identified in the DC Human Right Act 1977."

Whilst the Working Group's recommendation is that street harassment is made a criminal offence, the approach in Washington DC of establishing a community based Committee and investing in public campaigning provides a useful model for implementation.


Email: bill.brash@gov.scot

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