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by Gemma Fraser
01 February 2021
New group to consider criminalisation of misogynistic behaviour

New group to consider criminalisation of misogynistic behaviour

Members of the new working group to consider the creation of a standalone offence to help tackle misogyny have been announced.

The independent working group, made up of a panel of experts with specialisms in Scots law, human rights, women’s equality and perpetrator behaviours relating to gender-based violence, will hold its inaugural meeting later this month.

The Working Group on Misogyny and the Criminal Justice System in Scotland - chaired by leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy - will consider how the criminal justice system deals with misogyny, including where there are gaps in the law that could be addressed by a specific offence to tackle such behaviour.

A number of evidence sessions, from a wide range of sources, will be held over the coming year with a view to reporting its findings to the Scottish Government within 12 months, as recommended by the Justice Committee in its stage one report.

The group will also consider whether a statutory aggravation and/or a stirring up of hatred offence in relation to the characteristic of sex should be added to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill by regulation at a future date.

Kennedy said: “This is an important piece of work addressing the special forms of violence, transgression and abuse experienced by women which may emanate from misogyny.

“The law often fails women and the panel will consider the law’s capacity to address such crimes.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While Lord Bracadale, in his independent review of hate crime legislation, recommended that gender should be added to hate crime law, leading women’s organisations were opposed to this approach. They also called for misogyny to be considered as a standalone, criminal offence in Scotland.

“I am pleased to see that this important piece of work is now well underway, with an expert panel, appointed by Baroness Kennedy, to give this issue the proper consideration that it deserves. This marks another important milestone in making our society safe, equal and fair.”

The newly-appointed members of the working group include Mona Rishmawi, Chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch in the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Dr Chloe Kennedy, senior lecturer of Law at Edinburgh University specialising in law and gender and law and religion; Susan Kemp, lawyer in Scots law, international criminal and human rights law; Emma Ritch, Engender’s Executive Director; Shelagh McCall QC, leading Scottish criminal practitioner and appointed Queens Counsel in 2015; and Professor John Devaney - Centenary professor of social work at the University of Edinburgh.




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