The Misogyny Hate Crime policy was introduced by Nottinghamshire Police in 2016. In its simplest form it is a categorisation. It does not make anything illegal that is not already illegal. Instead, it allows the motivation of an incident or crime to be recorded as misogynistic: motivated by the hatred of women because they are women.
Nottinghamshire Police’s official definition is the following:
“incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”
These incidents span any situations where women are victimised simply because of their gender and could include: sexual assault, indecent exposure, groping, taking unwanted photographs, online abuse, being followed home, whistling, sexually explicit language, threatening/aggressive/intimidating behaviour, and unwanted sexual advances.
Put simply, this new categorisation meant:
- Incidents and crimes could now be reported and identified by this new definition.
- Such occurrences could be clearly defined in police crime incident reports, which meant they could be investigated either as a hate crime or an incident depending on whether the behaviour was criminal.
- The police could build profiles for further investigations and disrupt activities or perpetrators to prevent future incidents.
- Victims could be offered appropriate support.
- Awareness of the seriousness of these incidences was raised and women were actively encouraged to report them.
- The risks facing women could be tackled and better support could be offered.
- A strong societal message was sent that misogyny is unacceptable and the safety of women and girls matters.
The primary objective of the policy change was never to see hundreds of prosecutions, it was to let people know that this behaviour isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated in Nottinghamshire.
To fight something and raise awareness, you first have to name it. Putting the spotlight on misogyny gave various different unwanted actions a single name. This name has changed and shaped how our language and understanding of topics is framed and it has started many different conversations. People are now able to talk about this type of hate crime and more is done to support victims, and to support change. Reports have shown that increasingly, more women feel confident to report incidents to the police and that a vast amount of men are appalled at such behaviours.