Misogyny report: 'Misogyny in police and criminal justice system must be addressed', says working group members

A spokesperson from Scotland's feminist policy and advocacy organisation has warned ‘we should not underestimate misogyny in the police and criminal justice system’ following the launch of a new report hoping to combat misogyny.

The report, 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.

Other recommendations include a new offence of stirring up hatred against women and girls, an offence of public misogynistic harassment and a new offence of issuing threats of, or invoking, rape or sexual assault or disfigurement of women and girls, online and offline.

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Concerns from both Engender and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – who unveiled the report – expressed misogyny in policing and the criminal justice system “must be addressed” in order to implement these measures.

Baroness Kennedy said the criminal justice service is “still so imbued” with misogyny.

She said: “The perspective that law operates from has always been from a male perspective and over recent decades we’ve all been working hard to try to introduce other perspectives into so that it delivers better for a much changed society.

"But, however much you try to adjust legislation, if the underpinning framework is based on ways of thinking that often maintain the position of women as secondary and still operate on the primacy of men and often unconscious biases then something more is needed.

"Amongst the judiciary, the improvement has been radical in my lifetime.

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

"We’ve now got our judges understanding the whole nature of coercive control. Ten years ago that wouldn’t have been possible. This is a process where we have to engage with decision makers.”

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Baroness Kennedy said the examples of misogyny mentioned in the report were “horror stories”, including women being verbally insulted, humiliated, touched, groped, undermined, patronised and trolled online and offline.

“That as a constant on a women’s life has a really undermining affect in terms of self worth value and confidence,” Baroness Kennedy said, “The normalising of this conduct acts as an enabling environment for graver crimes.”

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Before Sarah Everard’s murder, Eilidh Dickson, policy and parliamentary manager at Engender said women’s faith in the criminal justice system “was already low”.

Ms Dickson who is part of the report’s working group said: "Women describe the criminal justice system as being worse than the rape or sexual offence itself so we are not naive to that.

"We know that it’s a real struggle and there has to be a more comprehensive piece of work looking at the dangers and pitfalls of existing criminal justice system and the approach to crimes against women."

Ms Dickson said there is also “endemic misogyny” with the Police and trust with the police “at an all time low”.

She added: "With the recommendations we’ve put forward in this report it is partly based on rebuilding that trust.”

Yet, Ms Dickson said that the bill proposed does not “solely rest on police and criminal justice” and it is about that culture change: "I don’t underestimate the problem and it has to be led by police demonstrating real change but thinking more broadly than carceral solutions to the problem of misogyny.”

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