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Good News For Victims Of Street Harassment

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Photographed by Rory DCS.
Most women know what it’s like to go out of their way to avoid attention from random men in the street. We cross the road when we see groups of rowdy builders and pick up our pace when a man tells us he likes what we’re wearing.

Now, misogyny and harassment of this sort will be recognised as a hate crime for the first time in one area of the UK.

Nottinghamshire Police force became the first in the country to include wolf whistling, street harassment, verbal abuse and taking photographs without consent within its definition of hate crime, as it aims to clamp down on sexist abuse.

Unwanted sexual advances, uninvited physical or verbal contact and using mobile phones to send unwanted messages are also included in the definition.

The full definition of misogyny hate crime, as outlined by Nottinghamshire Police, is: "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."

It means women can report harassment to the police and have it investigated, even is no crime has taken place, and they can receive support if necessary, the BBC reported.

A hate crime is defined as “a crime that the victim or any other person perceives to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards any aspect of a person’s identity”, including someone’s disability, gender identity, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, faith or belief, or sexual orientation, according to Stop Hate UK.

Police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland monitor crime motivated by these factors but can expand their own definition of hate crime.

Nottinghamshire's definition was introduced in partnership with Nottingham Women's Centre, and selected police officers and staff in the force have received “misogyny hate crime training”, which involves “behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman,” The Telegraph reported.

In a statement from the police force, Chief Constable Sue Fish said it will make Nottinghamshire “a safer place for all women”, adding that: "What women face, often on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable and can be extremely distressing. Nottinghamshire Police is committed to taking misogynistic hate crime seriously and encourages anyone who is affected by it to contact us without hesitation."

Sarah Green, acting director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, welcomed the news because it developed out of a police force talking to local women’s groups, according to The Telegraph. “What we are talking about is not trivial behaviour – some harassment that women and girls receive in public is upsetting and should have the attention of the authorities,” she said.

Melanie Jeffs, Centre Manager at Nottingham Women’s Centre, said it was a positive step for Nottinghamshire Police to “recognise the breadth of violence and intimidation that women experience every day."

Jeffs added: “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."
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