Review to consider criminalisation of misogyny in Scots law

Lord Bracadale

A hate crime review commissioned by the Scottish government is considering whether misogyny should be criminalised, The Herald reports.

The review, led by Lord Bracadale, is examining the issue at the suggestion of campaign groups including Rape Crisis Scotland and feminist organisation Engender who have said Scots law does not adequately deal with sexist behaviour.

John Wilkes, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “The issue of misogyny as a hate crime is something that Lord Bracadale is looking at just now as part of his review of Scottish hate crime legislation.

“Recent events in parliament, the film industry and at the Dorchester Hotel all remind us that misogyny remains a serious issue. We are looking to the Bracadale review to suggest the best way forward.”

Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson said: “This is a hate crime that is directed towards you because you happen to be a woman. For schoolgirls walking to school getting leered at, getting shouted at – that kind of harassment is happening on an everyday basis. We’ve seen three police forces that have started to count hate crimes, including misogyny. I think it’s time it’s extended more widely across the board.”

Rape Crisis Scotland stated in a submission to the review: “We believe that there is inadequate protection to deal with misogynistic harassment and abuse. In our experience, the gap in the protection the law provides to women in Scotland relates to harassment, particularly online harassment, and incitement to hatred.”

Engender said any new law should provide penalties where women experience “hate, bias, or harassment because of their sex or gender.”

The campaign group Fathers4Justice called for misandry to be similarly enshrined in law as a hate crime.

It said that Ms Swinson’s comments “risks stereotyping men as perpetrators and women as victims”.

F4J founder Matt O’Connor said: “Ms Swinson is right, but we must be clear to state that abuse has no gender and that men and women can both be victims and perpetrators of abuse.

“Men are very reluctant to report any kind of abuse because of the stigmas and shame attached to male victims and the absence of male support services.”