Catcalling, unwanted sexual advances and street harassment is still a major problem for women all over the world, proving that misogyny is alive and kicking in 2016. In fact, two years ago a video went viral for showing the levels of harassment that one woman faced in New York over the space of 10 hours. We also raised awareness for four women who were creating interesting and creative campaigns to help end harassment. However, one city in the UK has taken things a step further by making catcalling and wolf-whistling a hate crime.
The police force in the country of Nottinghamshire recently introduced the new rules in a bid to cut down misogynistic incidents and abuse. Now, under new guidelines, all reports of misogynistic abuse will be included in the police’s list of hate crimes.
According to Nottinghamshire police, a misogynistic hate crime constitutes “[i]ncidents 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.” Under UK law, a hate crime is considered a “crime that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity.”
Nottinghamshire is the first county in the UK to introduce such laws.
According to the BBC, ideas for the new policy came about during the Nottinghamshire Safer for Women Conference last year, which was co-hosted by the police with the Nottingham Women’s Centre.
Speaking about the new guidelines, Chief Constable Sue Fish said, “It’s a very important aspect of the overall hate crime work being conducted and one that will make Nottinghamshire a safer place for all women. What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing.”
In a recent poll conducted by the End Violence Against Women Coalition, a national coalition of individuals and organisations calling on government, public bodies and others to take concerted action to end violence against women in the UK, it was revealed that 85% of women aged 18-24 have at some point experienced unwanted sexual attention in public places. More worryingly, 45% have experience unwanted sexual touching.
“This level of harassment is having an enormous impact on women’s freedom to move about in the public space as it makes women feel a lot less safe,” said Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition. “The women we spoke to do a lot of work to feel safer, including avoiding parts of the city they live in, taking taxis and leaving events in groups.”
Speaking about the new policy she added, “It should also challenge the idea that women and girls in public or online spaces are ‘fair game’. We know that ignoring harassment and sexist bullying creates the impression that other types of violence against women will be tolerated so we welcome any action which counters this.”
We’re seriously impressed with Nottinghamshire right now. Let’s just hope some of this forward thinking legislature can make it over to our side of the Atlantic.