A student at the University of Manchester is campaigning to get misogyny against women recognised as a hate crime. Sylvie Pope is working to persuade Manchester City Council to follow Nottingham’s lead and make prejudice against women illegal, believing that it has become “a normalised part of everyday life.”
Misogyny has been a registered hate crime in Nottingham since 2016. Now, University of Manchester student, Sylvie Pope, is heading up a campaign to get misogyny recognised as a hate crime in Greater Manchester.
Currently, Manchester City Council counts crimes against someone because of their disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or alternative sub-culture, as hate.
Pope believes that, “women are not a minority category therefore misogyny is not seen as an issue of hate crime but rather a normalised part of everyday life.”
However, figures published by a 2016 YouGov survey, at the first general meeting of the Greater Manchester Women’s Alliance for #MisogynyISHate, suggest that 52% of women aged 18-24 have experienced some form of sexual harassment. Of these women, 92% did not report the incident.
The #MisogynyISHate campaign believes that if misogyny was recognised as a hate crime then people would be more likely to report misogynistic acts, such as sexual harassment, assault and groping. These acts are already classified as criminal acts – the campaign argues that they should be recognised as crimes of prejudice as well.
Pope believes that by making misogyny a hate crime, it will “increase awareness about intersectional hate crime as well as work to keep women and girls safer.”
The Greater Manchester branch of the #MisogynyISHate campaign have already drafted a motion and have the backing of councillor, Katie Lewis. At a meeting this month, both Pope and Lewis spoke about their determination to bring this issue to Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and to Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, later this year.
Lewis and Pope hope the campaign make changes nationally, but their first goal is having an impact in Greater Manchester. As Lewis says, the law commission has the power to put “misogyny as a hate crime blanket across the UK.”
The organisers of #MisogynyISHate believe that Hopkins has the power, operationally, to make misogyny a recognised hate crime by the Greater Manchester Police. They are seeking to encourage women to report acts of misogyny when they occur.
Pope says “Making misogyny a hate crime sends a message to women and girls, it is okay to speak up.”
While the campaign is still waiting to come to the council, backing it now would give it more credibility. This will further illustrate to the council and the police the necessity of the law change.
One activist, Jess Bostock, a student at the University of Manchester, says she really believes in this cause, as it is “women coming together to make a change.” She added that the campaign works as it is coming from “women with [their own] experiences.”
The campaign aims to make use of resources such as ‘Report and Support’ and creating something similar to the ‘Hollaback’ website set up in Nottingham, which allows visitors to search the crimes taking place in different areas of the city.
In City Hall, Lewis is trying to push the motion through soon as possible, hoping it will be discussed in September of this year. The councillor and the campaigners are positive that the motion will be supported by all parties.
The campaign is also looking for testimonies from women who are willing to share their stories of misogyny in Greater Manchester. If you would like to share your own experiences or to get involved with the campaign, you can follow it on social media or through the Greater Manchester Citizens website.