England and Wales To Classify Misogyny as a Hate Crime
The move comes as Great Britain grapples with the murder of Sarah Everard.
As the murder of Sarah Everard forces nations around the world to confront the realities of gender-based violence and sexual harassment, England and Wales have decided to classify misogyny as a hate crime.
According to a report by CNN, the move is an experimental one and will not require any change to pre-existing law (in the UK, police are already able to classify stalking, harassment and violence as hate crimes). Going forward, police will be asked to “to identify and record any crimes of violence against the person, including stalking and harassment, as well as sexual offenses where the victim perceives it to have been motivated by a hostility based on their sex,” according to Susan Williams, Minister of State for Home Affairs.
Supporters of the move hope it will encourage greater reporting of crimes against women. Others doubt its efficacy, noting that hate crime laws increase police power by asking already-marginalized communities to engage with authorities (it’s worth remembering that Everard was murdered by a police officer). “Hate crime laws are an investment in punishment after a harm has occurred rather than a strategy to prevent harm in the first place,” Sarah Lamble writes in an article for community organization Abolitionist Futures. “It takes the symbolic aspect of recognizing harm and channels it into a punitive response (tougher sentencing) that does little to stop violence and instead shores up the powers of the carceral state.”