'Why is misogyny not being treated as the hate crime that it is?'

Downplaying of violence against girls and women and the victim blaming of girls and women have always been prevalent in our history – and today it continues.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 6:00 am

Charlotte Proudman, a London-based human rights lawyer who specialises in violence against women and girls and who is a gender-based violence expert for the European Institute for Gender Equality, has in recent days been suggesting that police and the judicial systems are guilty of failing to do enough to combat these abuses.

The sinister and gendered informed murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, the two sisters who were killed last summer in a Wembley Park in London by a young male Danyal Hussein is a further example of purposeful targeting.

The misogynistic killer was a member of a web forum, run by an American self-styled ‘magician’ whose instructions about demonic pacts, mirror steps taken by the killer.

He has encouraged murder in some of his writings, including for a violent Satanic group that’s been cited as an influence on seven young men convicted of neo-Nazi terror offences here in the UK over the past two years.

Danyal Hussein planned to kill Bibaa and Nicole as women, and on top of this he planned to kill a further four women, doing so he asserts ‘ in a pact’ he made with a ‘Satanic’ being.

These women were picked out to be subjected to violence and death because they were women.

Misogyny is at the heart of the targeting of women and girls for gendered informed hate, harassment, abuse and violence, thus meeting the criteria of what constitutes a hate crime.

Yet in many police services across the UK, including here in South Yorkshire, misogyny is not recognised shockingly in hate crime classifications as a hate crime.

Crimes however, perpetrated against a wide range of other protected equalities identity individuals and groups are classified as hate crimes.

For a number of years on behalf of girls’ and women’s groups and their allies I have been requesting that misogyny be accepted and logged by police services in the UK as the hate crime it is.

Whilst some forces have made misogyny a classification in their areas, others have not and still need to.

Women and girls continue to be unable to live ordinary lives, fearing for the safety of self and others when outside of their homes and sadly too for a sizeable number in our society they carry fears of not even being safe in their own homes either.

In regard to the recent media reportage around spiking, Proudman is also warning that official statistics do not reflect the true scale of the problem.

Under reportage is of concern.

The recent escalation in spiking of women, particularly young women, is being experienced by women as misogynistic. Proudman asserts that:

“Women do not feel safe reporting spiking to the police because of a deeply misogynistic culture which relegates the importance of crimes against women.

"For as long as this institutional flaw is allowed to persist, people will continue to spike drinks with impunity, as police fail to effectively investigate these issues, preferring instead to gaslight or ridicule victims.”

Young women’s groups’ community research on spiking incidents, throws light on how these cases have been dealt with by some police services outside of our immediate area.

Identifying there being tendencies to blame the victims for the acts of spiking that violated and harmed these women.

In one such incident a young female student informed how, when she reported the spiking crime perpetrated against her to the police service in her local area, officers taking her report implied that she was quite likely too drunk at the time and had imagined it.

This revisionism occurring despite physical evidence to the contrary being present.

Others were questioned on what they were wearing ‘to provoke’ the ‘gender-chem assault’ upon them, thus in effect accusing these victims of ‘provoking’ the crimes enacted upon them and therefore avoiding to rightfully place much needed focus and blame upon the perpetrators of these crimes for their crimes.

Such actions by those in positions of authority serve to normalise and reinforce victim blaming of women and girls in our society.

Whilst police services across the UK claim that they are taking crimes against girls and women seriously, it is fact that until they take concerted action to make misogyny a hate crime in every police service in Britain, girls and women know only too well from experience, that such reassurances don’t always translate into practice.

Nor is there amplified the vital societal message being put out to misogynists, that misogyny is recognised as a reality and that misogyny will not be tolerated in our society and will definitely be dealt with in the only way it should be dealt with - as a hate crime.

n Chrissy Meleady is the Director of Equalities and Human Rights UK.