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Working to end sexual violence

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News | Our response to plans to make misogyny a hate crime

Our response to plans to make misogyny a hate crime

The Scottish Government has proposed new laws which would make misogynistic abuse a specific hate crime. We welcome these proposals, and hope they will play a part in ending misogynistic abuse and sexual violence in Scotland.

Our work with survivors shows us just how prevalent misogynistic attitudes and behaviours are in Scotland, time and time again.

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre reports seeing a significant increase in misogynistic abuse and in particular online abuse. This includes cyberstalking, sexual harassment, grooming for exploitation or abuse, ‘revenge porn’, upskirting, sexual extortion, videos of sexual assaults and rapes, rape threats, doxing (publicly publishing women’s personal information), and tech abuse in intimate partnerships.

Women are also subjected to behaviours in public spaces such as being groped or touched inappropriately, being verbally abused or having sexual comments made towards them. There has been a rise in the techniques promoted by ‘pick-up artists’ who suggest that women need to be targeted on their own and repeatedly asked for personal information. The impact of this abuse on survivors can be long lasting and devastating.

Women in Scotland should be free to live without fear of harassment and abuse. It creates a culture of fear and barriers to women and girls fully participating in society.

Many women are taught from childhood to try to protect themselves, to adapt their own behaviour to avoid experiencing this kind of abuse or violence. We hope that these proposals will help to shift the burden of ending this abuse from women to the men who choose to perpetrate it.

The Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland Working Group report showed that 93.4% of women who described their experiences of abusive and harassing behaviour didn’t report this to the police. They reported feeling that the police wouldn’t be interested, or it would be considered trivial.

New proposed laws from the Scottish Government would make misogynistic harassment a specific crime. These laws could send a clear signal to women that these behaviours are unacceptable, that this behaviour is not acceptable and will be taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

These laws can only play one part in ending misogynistic abuse. Firstly, we need to see real action taken within Police Scotland so that all women, especially those from minoritised communities, feel able to repot harassment and abuse safely. Secondly, we need to see a fundamental shift in societal attitudes towards women and girls, at all levels.

Our prevention work is a key way we work to try to challenge harmful attitudes and behaviour at an early age, and to stop sexual violence before it begins. Our prevention programme delivers workshops on issues like consent, social media and sexual violence to a range of age groups in schools all across Scotland. We also run the Equally Safe at School programme, which offers schools a toolkit to tackle gender-based violence.

You can read our full response to the consultation here.

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