Manchester graduate campaign leads to hate crime recording changes

Two graduates from The University of Manchester have been celebrating this week as the Government announced it will ask the police to record crimes motivated by a person’s sex or gender.

Last week, Home office minister Baroness Williams declared all police forces in England and Wales will be asked to record crimes caused by hostility bases on sex or gender from autumn.

This change is taking place whilst the Government awaits the outcomes of the Law Commission’s review of hate crime legislation.

Graduates Jess Bostock and Sylvie Pope have been campaigning for nearly three years and this major step forward is bringing them closer to their goal of ensuring misogyny is classed as a hate crime and to help tackle male violence against women.

Sylvie started the Misogyny Is Hate campaign as leader of Greater Manchester Citizens Women’s Action Group back in 2018 while still a Social Sciences student at The University of Manchester.

After experiencing unwanted sexual advances and everyday sexism herself, Sylvie was inspired to take action after hearing about Nottingham Citizens who had successfully campaigned to see Nottinghamshire police become the first police force in the UK to record misogyny as a hate crime.

Led by Sylvie and Geography student Jess, campaigners brought together women across Greater Manchester to form an alliance as part of Greater Manchester Citizens and launch the campaign.

Since formation, the team has relentlessly campaigned through running action events, conducting research into misogyny in Greater Manchester, meeting with decision makers and sharing experiences of harassment, violence and hate

Their campaigning was instrumental in bringing about the Law Commission’s review of hate crime legislation.

In 2019, they hosted the Law Commission for a hearing on hate crime with Greater Manchester Citizens, where women from across the city shared stories of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia and other abuse.

Local stories and research directly contributed to the Law Commission’s recommendation in 2020 that misogyny be made a hate crime.

Also in 2020, following consultations, the campaign gained the backing of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has recorded misogyny hate crime as a key policy in ‘The Greater Manchester Strategy to Tackle Violence Against Women and Girls’.

Sylvie said: “I chose to study in Manchester because it was the Suffragette City.

“At the beginning of this campaign, I sat in a boardroom across from the Mayor Andy Burnham and told him my story of misogyny.

“I’m incredibly proud of the hundreds of women who have since joined our campaign across Manchester and bravely told their stories.

“It’s a relief to hear that we’ve finally been listened to, and that this law change will impact millions of women and girls in our city as well as across the country.”

Last year, the Students’ Union’s Reclaim the Night, an annual movement against sexual harassment and gender-based violence, named the campaign as one of its key policies, leading to over 2,000 women marching the streets.

Jess said: “We are absolutely thrilled that women have been listened to, and that misogynistic crimes will be recorded.

“Women from Greater Manchester and the University of Manchester have been campaigning around these issues for years.

“Recording misogynistic hate crimes is a simple, yet necessary, step to better understand and map women’s experiences and ultimately to tackle misogyny and male violence against women.

“By mapping every woman’s story or report of a hate incident, we can pre-empt patterns of abuse and redistribute funding to vital community services.”

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