Misogyny report Scotland: 'Reaction to document will fuel incel anger towards women', expert claims

A professor of gender-based violence has said a new report aiming to criminalise misogyny in Scotland “will fuel” hatred towards women from incel groups, despite the report in general being “beneficial”.

The report, published on International Women’s Day, recommends misogyny should be criminalised as part of “radical” legal reforms to protect women from abuse.

The document, titled “Misogyny – A Human Rights Issue”, calls for the creation of a Misogyny and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, which would create a new statutory aggravation of misogyny.

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It would also create new offences of stirring up hatred against women and girls to tackle, amongst other things, the threat from incel (involuntary celibates) and other extremist groups.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC with the 'Misogyny - A Human Rights Issue' report (Photo: Robert Perry/PA Wire).

However, Professor John Devaney, an academic in gender based violence at the University of Edinburgh and part of the working group around the report, has raised concerns over the safety of women in light of the document’s publication.

He said: "I think there will be a reaction to this report. Those groups [incel groups] will see it as a further attack on their manhood and therefore this will fuel some of their anger.

"However, if the majority of society starts to move in the desired direction, that tends to isolate those with the most extreme views, therefore it’s harder for individuals that hold those extreme views to be hiding in plain site.”

Incels are characterised as an “extreme” and “rapidly growing” example of male entitlement in the report.

Believed to derive from the Men’s Right activism of the 1960s, incel groups have seen a growth in popularity on online spaces in recent years.

Prof Devaney said: "We have a section of the male population that does feel disconnected from society so they will find ways to lash out.

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Misogyny should be criminalised in Scotland under 'radical' reform, report recom...

"In the aftermath of Sarah Everard, there was also this other group of men that were coming forward to talk about what they can do that’s going to be helpful.

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"I think this report gives the opportunity for that group of young men to see that people want them to come forward.

"Women shouldn't just be left to sort out the problems that women experience and this is actually about men taking responsibility.”

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, who chaired the report’s working group, said she had “no doubts” many men will say “for Heaven’s sake” when they read the document, but stressed “something has to be done”.

She said the report was “shifting the dial” from women as victims to men as perpetrators.

The baroness added: “Men will say men are assaulted too. They are, but it’s a different kind and it’s important for men to understand this.”

Asked how men could be encouraged to see misogyny as a problem they needed to address, Prof Devaney said: “I think most workplaces now have committees that are spaces involved in diversity and inclusion. That’s a space where men can become involved alongside women about issues to do with gender and sex, but also lots of other factors such as race and disability.”

Justice secretary Keith Brown welcomed the report and said the recommendations would now be closely considered.

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He said: “This is an extremely important piece of work to help inform policy to address the many forms of violence, transgression and abuse experienced by women which may emanate from misogyny.”

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