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by Louise Wilson
08 March 2023
Misogyny could become offence under new Scottish Government plans

The Kennedy report was published a year ago

Misogyny could become offence under new Scottish Government plans

Misogyny could become an offence under new laws being proposed by the Scottish Government.

Marking International Women’s Day, justice secretary Keith Brown has launched a consultation on reforms to tackle abusive and humiliating behaviour directed at women and girls.

Brown said current laws “fail to adequately respond” to such behaviour.

The proposals are based on recommendations from a report published last year by Baroness Helena Kennedy, which called for the introduction of a Misogyny and Criminal Justice Act.

The Scottish Government is consulting on the creation of five new laws, including making “misogynistic behaviour” a criminal offence.

This is intended to deal with behaviour which is “likely to” cause fear, alarm, degradation, humiliation or distress to women and girls, but where is it not directed at a specific person or group of people.

The government is also proposing a new offence of misogynistic harassment, which would criminalise harassment directed at a specific woman or girl.

Threatening rape, sexual assault or disfigurement and “stirring up hatred” against women and girls would also become offences, while misogyny could become a statutory aggravator – meaning it would be recorded as a motive and taken into account when sentencing.

Brown said: “While criminal law reform alone cannot be expected to eliminate misogynistic abuse, or the attitudes which perpetuate it, these specific criminal protections are an important step in challenging society’s – and particularly men’s – tolerance of misogyny.”

The consultation will run until Friday 2 June, and women in particular are encouraged to respond.

Baroness Kennedy said: “For too long the law has not been drawn from the experience of women. It is time to hear from girls and women about what they think should be included in law so that they can be treated as equals and live free from abuse and denigration.”

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