In response to the suggestion that the Scottish Government is ‘digging its heels in’ against women’s voices with regard to the Hate Crime Bill, stewartb has provided us with this clarification:
‘The Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland has been set up to independently consider how the Scottish criminal justice system deals with misogyny. This includes looking at whether there are gaps in the law that could be addressed by a specific criminal offence to tackle such behaviour.”
“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) legislation by regulation at a future date.”
The group is chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC. She has appointed a panel of six experts with specialisms in Scots law, human rights, women’s equality and perpetrator behaviours relating to gender based violence.”
The Remit of the Group includes but is not limited to:
“Identify whether there are gaps in the existing law and/or where there is a failure to implement existing legislation in a way that protects women and girls. This will include whether the characteristics of sex should be included within the hate crime framework as a statutory aggravation and/or if sex should be added to stirring up hatred offences (subject to the Bill as passed).
“Consider the legal practice in Scotland and internationally that offers the best protection for women and girls and examine how misogyny may be best tackled through a legal lens. “
And on remit it adds: “ … work in partnership to develop a specific definition of misogyny within a Scottish legal context, taking account of behaviours that already fall within criminal law and actions that can be taken out with the criminal law to address women’s experiences relating to misogynistic behaviour or inequality, challenge men’s behaviour and wider societal attitudes.”
For more information, membership of the working group includes but is not limited to:
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC – Chair – Labour Party member of the House of Lords where she is active on a range of human rights advocacy matters. domestically and internationally. She is the author of the book ‘Eve was Framed: Women and British Justice’: a critique of the treatment of women in the British courts
Emma Ritch – Executive Director at Engender, the Scotland-based feminist policy and advocacy organisation. Its aim is “to make women’s inequality visible, and persuade those with power to make positive changes to services, policy, regulation, practices, and laws that negatively affect women.”
And to re-enforce the point if still needed by you or other readers inclined to accept your btl post at face value:
If you are interested in the balancing of judgement on this issue, I strongly advise you to read this from Engender, Scotland’s feminist policy and advocacy organisation:
In so doing you will also note in passing this instance of ‘talking up’ Scotland’s Parliament:
“Parliament has done some of its best cross-party work on complex issues around violence against women. Its Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act has been hailed as ‘gold standard’ legislation, because parliamentary engagement with the Bill was deeply informed by women’s lived experience of men’s violence. We believe that similar detailed scrutiny is needed to provide adequate protection in respect of women and deeply embedded misogyny and inequality, which is not possible within the timetable available for the Bill.”
Back to the main point, Engender: ‘… welcomed the Justice Committee’s conclusion that “Whilst the arguments are finely balanced, the Committee considers it might be wise to wait until the Working Group on Misogynistic Harassment has reported before Parliament considers legislating to add sex as a hate crime characteristic.”
‘With consensus and momentum behind the need to address the misogyny and hatred toward women there is an opportunity for an ambitious ‘fit for purpose’ approach.
‘Engender therefore urges Parliament to support the Bill’s approach, which leaves it open to Parliament to add a sex aggravator if and when solutions to these problems have been identified. The Misogyny Working Group has committed to reporting on this within a year… ‘
Engender’s view has now been endorsed by the Scottish Government and Parliament. Engender has agreed to participate in Dame Helena Kennedy’s Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland.