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  • Birmingham’s Nazir Afzal leads celebrities in call for misogyny to be a hate crime – Birmingham Live

 January 17

by Carolina

A group of male celebrities including Michael Sheen, Jason Manford and Gary Neville have joined forces with Brummie legal expert Nazir Afzal to call for misogyny to be made a hate crime.

They are backing a campaign to ensure offences motivated by a hatred against women would be treated on a par with crimes involving racism, religious intolerance and homophobia.

In an open letter, Afzal, a lifelong campaigner for women’s rights and safety, and a group of well-known men joined MP Stella Creasy to press the House of Lords to accept the Newlove amendment to the Policing Bill when it comes before them.

Read about Nazir Afzal’s life: Grooming gangs, race attacks and death threats – incredible life story of Birmingham lawyer Nazir Afzal

Comedian David Baddiel and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams also joined the roll call.

Afzal, a former chief prosecutor, is now urging all men to sign the letter, urging: “Men must take responsibility for male violence…sign the letter please!”

West Midlands Police is not among the forces which currently records misogyny or gender bias in their crime data.

Speaking to BirminghamLive about the motivation behind the letter, he said it was time to modernise hate crime laws to recognise the role of misogyny in crimes against women and girls.

Afzal, who prosecuted the Rotherham grooming gang and has spent a lifetime working on behalf of victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and honour crimes, said misogyny was at the root of many crimes against women.

The letter also presses for misogyny to be treated as an aggravating feature in offending.

This would include, for example, burglars who deliberately targeted the homes of lone women.

He cited the case of the Manchester Arena bomber, who had deliberately targeted a concert that he knew would mainly attract girls and women, and who had a prior history of misogyny.

Nazir Afzal

Nazir Afzal

Including gender as a hate characteristic could ensure that young males in particular who displayed behaviour rooted in misogyny could be picked up sooner and their behaviour challenged and, hopefully, changed.

The push for recognition has been backed by the West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner, Nicky Brennan.

She said: “Recording misogyny as a hate crime would help women have more trust in the police as well as giving the police the ability to get to the root causes of violence against women and girls.

“We need to challenge misogyny wherever it arises and the police need to show that they take it seriously as well.

“Making misogyny a hate crime would allow police forces to much better collect information around the scale of the problem, as well as changing the culture within policing and enable perpetrators to be held to account for their actions through the Criminal Justice System.

“The Prime Minister should be leading the way in the fight against misogyny and hate against women and I’d urge him to rethink this to protect women and help challenge attitudes which pose a danger to women.”

Cllr Nicky Brennan and stock photo of domestic violence victim (posed by model)

Cllr Nicky Brennan, who has been a lifelong campaigner on domestic abuse and equality. Right, image posed by model

Race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity are the five protected characteristics under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 66 of the Sentencing Act 2020, but campaigners want sex and gender added to this.

The famous names on the letter are:

  • Nazir Afzal OBE : Brummie and former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England
  • Rowan Williams : Former Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Gary Neville : Football pundit and former England and Manchester United player who co-owns Salford City
  • Michael Sheen : Welsh actor and TV producer
  • David Baddiel : Comedian and author
  • Fred Sirieix : French maître d’hôtel who is known for appearing on Channel 4’s First Dates and BBC Two’s Million Pound Menu

  • Jason Manford : Comedian and actor
  • Iain Stirling : Scottish comedian, TV presenter

  • Richard Herring : Stand-up comedian, ventriloquist and writer
  • Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE : Actor, comedian and TV presenter known for the BBC Two sketch comedy series Goodness Gracious Me
  • Krish Majumdar : Chair of Bafta and documentary director
  • Colin Salmon : Actor, known for playing Charles Robinson in three James Bond films
  • Chris Addison : Regular panellist on Mock the Week, stand-up comedian who played Ollie Reeder in BBC Two’s The Thick of It
  • Peter Jukes : Author, playwright, literary critic and blogger

Current sentencing guidelines specifically name ‘racial or religious’ aspects of higher culpability offences as aggravating factors – meaning if these played a role in the crime the punishment will likely be more severe.

David Baddiel's new BBC documentary airs tonight

David Baddiel’s new BBC documentary airs tonight

The ‘Newlove amendment’, put forward by Tory life peer and former victims’ commissioner Baroness Newlove, calls for a new clause to be inserted into the bill specifically outlining ‘aggravation of offences on grounds of hostility related to sex or gender’.

Ms Creasy’s open letter states that ‘the continuing exclusion of misogyny and misandry from this list risks giving the impression that crimes motivated by hatred of women are somehow less serious than homophobic or racist violence.’

It adds: ‘Making this simple change would send a powerful symbol about how seriously we as a society take violence against women and girls. It is time to give all women equal protection from being targeted for harm because they are women.

WHY IS MISOGYNY NOT A HATE CRIME?

The campaign to make misogyny a hate crime has not yet succeeded, having recently met opposition from The Law Commission and from Boris Johnson’s Government.

But the issue has been discussed for years, without progress.

Police Chiefs’ Council chair Sara Thornton argued forces were too stretched to make such a move, while in October last year Boris Johnson rejected calls to formally recognise misogyny as a hate crime, arguing an abundance of existing laws should be better enforced instead.

The debate comes amid concerns over women’s safety, with girls and women speaking up about their experiences in the aftermath of the murder of Sarah Everard last year.

Original posted at www.birminghammail.co.uk

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