A call to have misogyny – the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women – made a hate crime has been made by campaigners in Manchester.
Trafford Rape Crisis volunteers joined fellow activists at the Misogyy is Hate rally at the Manchester University Student Union for an evening of talks, performances and discussion around the impact of misogyny in today’s society on 5th December.
Organized by Greater Manchester Citizens, the evening had a diverse range of contributions including Katie Richards from Human Appeal, Labour Councillor of Fallowfield Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, Jane Gregory of Salford Survivor Project, Catherine Preach-Barnes of Manchester Vineyard Church, Asiya of Cheadle Mosque and a performance of the Pankhurst anthem by MUSICA choir.
The team behind Misogyny is Hate highlighted their aims for the campaign:
“Inciting rape or death threats online is hate. Screaming at a Muslim woman in the street or grabbing her hijab is hate. Taking a picture or video up a woman’s skirt against her will is hate. Groping, molesting, or raping a woman is HATE. But our institutions have decided for us that misogyny isn’t a Hate Crime.
“Making Misogyny a recordable Hate Crime offence will allow us to help train Police in recognition and response to misogyny, so that victims feel empowered to report their experience in the knowledge that Police will take them seriously and respond accordingly. Police will be able to launch new prevention and de-escalation schemes, to keep our streets safer.
Taking to the stage, Labour Councillor Grace Fletcher-Hackwood highlighted the absurdity and limitations of the current hate crime definitions. The Metropolitan Police website states:
“A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference.
“It doesn’t always include physical violence. Someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime. The same goes for someone posting abusive or offensive messages about you online.”
However, the current boundaries tend to ignore gender-based hate as a category, unless the victim is from the LGBTQ+ community.
“I can walk down the street and men can shout comments about my breasts, they can talk about the perverse sexual acts they want to perform or make other lewd remarks: and that’s not considered a crime,” Grace explained.
“But the minute they shout the word ‘dyke’, it’s classed as a hate crime. That’s not right.”
The rally brought members of institutions and the general public from around Greater Manchester together to send a message to Chief Constable Ian Hopkins. A heatmap, displayed on-screen during the evening, highlighted the scale of the issue in the local area: the visual showed the number of sexual assaults and violence reported in a single month of September 2018 in Manchester.
TRC volunteer Becki, who attended the rally, explains why the charity is supporting the cause:
“Violence against women doesn’t occur within a vacuum: it is deeply ingrained in how our society perceives and treats women. This spans everything from victim-blaming in the press or court, to the normalising of gender-motivated abuse on our streets.
“We continue to live in a world where victims of sexual violence are still asked how much they drank that night; where a woman who receives cat-calls on the street is told she was ‘asking for it’ because her skirt was too short or her top was too tight. Maybe those actions don’t include physical violence, but they fuel the attitudes that lead to it. Until there’s a fundamental shift in how society perceives and treats women, violence will continue.
“For all of us at Trafford Rape Crisis, it’s crucial to stand up and fight those injustices in every area of society. Misogyny is part of a wide-scale problem: we can’t just sit back and let it go unchallenged.”