Politics

Misogyny legislation not backed by Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson's comments on new misogyny legislation has been criticised by campaigner. Source: Arno Mikkor (via Wikimedia Commons)

By Luthien Evans | Political Editor

Following public outcry, a nationwide debate has been sparked regarding misogyny. This is due to the Sarah Everard’s murder trial, as well as Sabina Nessa, a teacher killed on her way home from meeting a friend. 

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that he does not support the calls to make misogyny a hate crime. He states in conjecture with the BBC, that there is “abundant existing legislation” to tackle violence against women. He furthered comments by suggesting that women’s safety walking home at night was a number one priority. Many campaigners argue that the root cause of the majority of violence against women is misogyny, and thus are asking for this to be classified as a hate crime within England and Wales.

Current hate crime legislation applies to crimes regarding race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity. However it is of note that 11 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales classify misogyny as a hate crime.

Johnson’s addition to the conversation included: “I think, to be perfectly frank, if you simply widen the scope of what you ask the police to do you’ll just increase the problem.”. This point has been raised by many campaigners due to the fact that within the Sarah Everard case,  police integrity was questioned due to the case matter. He furthered with: “What you need to do is get the police to focus on the very real crimes, the very real feeling of injustice and betrayal that many people feel.”

Despite Johnson’s words, cross party support to add misogyny legislation has been backed. Within the Conservative party, taking charge of the cause is Helen Newlove, Conservative peer and former victims’ commissioner. She is leading the way for an amendment to the police,  crime, sentencing and courts bill, which is in the committee stage in the House of Lords. In the Commons, Labour MP Stella Creasy is championing the amendment. It has been said that it is “likely to be supported” by Bob Neil, the Chair of the Justice select committee.

The conversation in Scotland is being broadly supported by many in Holyrood. Nicola Sturgeon has stated that the past few weeks of violence against women has marked a ‘turning point’, “where we stop expecting women to fix these problems, and put the full glare where it belongs, a man who behaves in a deeply unacceptable way.”

Some campaigners have supported the idea that during the prosecution process of cases of violence against women  judges would be allowed to examine phone conversations as evidence to see if misogyny played a role in the crime.

Amendments to the legislature may come to fruition if cross party support continues within the House of Commons and public scrutiny.

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