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Harassment of women now a "hate crime"

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Offline kat

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[image courtesy of Nottinghamshire Police]

Nottinghamshire Police are the first municipal Police Force in the UK to specifically recognise the harassment of women as a hate crime.
Nottinghamshire Police has been working hard to understand exactly what hate crime means to the people of Nottinghamshire and has a clear definition in place. A hate crime is simply any incident, which may or may not be deemed as a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.

Misogyny hate crime, in addition to the general hate crime definition, may be understood as incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.

Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited **** advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission.[emphasis added]

Based on the language used it's not clear if policy implementation is limited to the Real World (TM) or not, it's sufficiently vague and subjectively interpretive enough to imply a response is obliged from the Authorities if the recipient is upset over others conduct regardless, online or offline; the defining characteristic being the offence being perceived by the victim as prejudiced or hatred.

What's particularly perplexing however is the sentiment behind the move, it implies that Criminal Harassment (cf. footnote [6]) is not already a thing[3], which leads groups like the Nottinghamshire Women's Centre, the organisation behind the policy, to perpetuate the myth that broader society doesn't take the abuse of women seriously;

Melanie Jeffs, Centre Manager at Nottingham Women’s Centre said: "We’re pleased to see Nottinghamshire Police recognise the breadth of violence and intimidation that women experience on a daily basis in our communities. Understanding this as a hate crime will help people to see the seriousness of these incidents and hopefully encourage more women to come forward and report offences."

The UK does in fact take abuse and discrimination very seriously[1], explicitly including behaviours deemed "hateful" and "harassing" (cf. footnote [6], Criminal Harassment). The implied lack of reports mentioned in the quote above is not/should not be taken as evidence or indicative of this - there are many reasons why victims of abuse do not file reports, the police not taking them seriously is actually low on the list[2]. For example the UK already has a number of effective laws on the books covering conduct deemed prejudicial or hate, which include forms of criminal harassment;

- Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (specific protections against harassment)
- Defamation Act 2013 (reputation)
- Public Order Act 1986 (racial/religious harassment)
- Equal Pay Act 1970 (employment/pay/work)
- **** Discrimination Act 1975 (& 1986) (****/gender/marital/parental status)
- Employment Act 1989 (equal opportunities in the workplace)
- Race Relations Act 1976 (racial hatred)
- Equality Act 2010 (poverty/disability).

And additionally for online conduct;

- Data Protection Act 1998 (abuses of information).
- Computer Misuse Act 1990 (electronic access abuses).
- Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media[4].

Why Nottinghamshire Police would, in conjunction with the Nottingham Women's Centre, deem it necessary to say they are going to police the above 'offences' when they should already be doing that as part of their Duties as defined by current law is anyones guess, but failures to act by Police, and failures to report by individuals, are issues requiring different solutions and remedies that have little to do with defining the crime or offence itselt.

What's interesting about this appearing now is that it goes against increasing amounts of data that suggest women are equally as abuse to others as men are said to be. This isn't cutting edge information only available to those in the know. Its easily accessible and available to the public such that one might be forgiven for thinking it odd that two organisations at the forefront of defending and protecting women appear ignorant of it, or that no-one within their respective ranks or advocacy circles had raised the issue or discussed these latest findings and what they might mean for their activism and advocacy, and the problems they present to such heavily gynocentic and gendered policies. Is such misandry simply the unintentional consequence of focusing on one gender at the expense of others given the plethora of information and resources available.

In other words, just what are Nottinghamshire Police and Nottingham Women's Centre going to do about female abuse directed at other females, female abuse directed at males[5], or female abuse directed at other non-binary genders, except to perhaps ignore it, or count it as misogyny anyway thereby perpetuating a misrepresentation of the problem based on what would then be artificially inflated statistics and data relative to actual crime occurrence.

Additional Resources
- Victims' Information Service (UK Gov service).
- Report domestic abuse (Gov.uk).
- Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary).
- Taking action about harassment (Citizens Advice).
- Reporting to Law Enforcement (US).

Further Reading
The below topics cover different aspects of the core issue presented by the above, how to deal with harassment and abuse. The fact of the matter is UK law makes a distinction between "unwanted" or "nuisance" behaviours, and criminal conduct where the individuals person is being threatened with harm. What the above does is blur the line in such a way that both can be captured under the remit of the policy, the lesser being treated as equal to the greater in much the same way as the argument conflating online violence with physical violence - activists and advocates want both seen as 'violence' regardless.

- 50% of women are misogynists.
- The dark side of diversity: "positive discrimination" (reverse discrimination).
- Illegal Hate Speech, the EU and Tech.
- "Freedom of speech ends where threats abound".
- Violence against males in games doesn't count... another study that 'proves' it.
- Online  Harassment: The  Australian Woman’s Experience.
- Consultation on Interim Revised CPS Guidelines on Prosecuting Social Media Cases.
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms or Discrimination against Women.
- Free Speech & Expectations of Privacy on Social Media.
- Draft Investigatory  Powers Bill.
- Privacy in the aftermath of Paris (2015).
- Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls - A World-Wide Wake-Up Call.

[1] Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse: "HMIC found that staff answering 999 calls usually understand the definition of domestic abuse and mark cases accordingly on their information systems. They make sure that in the vast majority of cases an officer responds either immediately or within the hour. [...] If forces are unable to identify repeat victims, and convey the history of the abuse they have suffered to the responding officer, then valuable opportunities to identify and safeguard the victim on arrival are likely to be missed.". [pp. 10 & 11]

[2] Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse: "We conducted an on-line survey of over 500 victims of domestic abuse. Seventy-nine percent of the victims who had reported the incident to the police were satisfied with the initial police response, which is positive. When asked the main reasons for their satisfaction, one of the most common reasons was the speed of the policing response (14 percent). Another common reason (14 percent) said it was because officers were helpful. Although a high number of victims felt satisfied, a third felt no safer or less safe after the initial response."

[3] Association of Chief Police Officers - Bullying and Harassment: "Harassment is any unwelcome comments (written or spoken) or conduct which:

- violates an individual's dignity; and/or
- creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Harassment can take many forms including violence, threats, abuse, and damage to property. It can involve verbal abuse and name calling, offensive graffiti or post and can be received via text message, emails or social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. It may cause physical injury, mental stress, anxiety, or insecurity. It can also occur for a variety of reasons, including race, religious belief, **** orientation, gender identity or disability.

[4] Crown Prosecution Services Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media ... "set out four categories of criminal offence:

- Credible threats (to a person’s life or safety or property)
- Communications targeting specific individuals (including persistent harassment and ongoing abuse)
- Breach of court orders (for example identifying people protected by law)
- Communications which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false

The guidance makes the distinction between the first three categories, which will be robustly prosecuted, and the last category to which a high threshold for prosecution applies. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC explains: “These are cases that can give rise to complex issues, but to avoid the potential chilling effect that might arise from high numbers of prosecutions in cases in which a communication might be considered grossly offensive, we must recognise the fundamental right to freedom of expression and only proceed with prosecution when a communication is more than offensive, shocking or disturbing, even if distasteful or painful to those subjected to it.” In all cases, prosecutors will consider the full context of the communication and the public interest test

[5] Male Victims of Domestic Abuse: "For the 12-month period preceding the survey, and excluding stalking, 5.7% of women and 4.0% of men reported having suffered non-**** partner abuse (any abuse, threat or force from a partner or ex-partner), a proportion of male victims of about 41%.  Of these, 3.0% of women and 1.8% of men reported suffering actual force, a proportion of male victims of 37.5%, which was designated as ‘severe’ in the case of 1.8% of women and 1.3% of men, a proportion of male victims of about 42%. This male proportion was slightly lower than the 2004/05 figure of 47%. "

- REFERENCES EXAMINING ASSAULTS BY WOMEN ON THEIR SPOUSES OR MALE PARTNERS: "This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.  The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600."

- Thirty Years of Denying the Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence: Implications for Prevention and Treatment: "The controversy over gender symmetry in PV was fueled by the 1975 National Family Violence Survey, which found a perpetration rate of assault by men partners of 12% and by women partners 11.6% (Gelles & Straus, 1988; Straus & Gelles, 1986; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 2006). The rate of severe assaults such as kicking, punching, choking, and attacks with objects was also about the same for men and women (3.8% by men and 4.6% by women). Neither of these gender differences was statistically significant."
[minor edits for clarity]