Misogyny as a Hate Crime: Equity Not Equality

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Sarah Everard was a 33-year-old marketing executive in the UK. In March of this year, she went to a friend’s house for dinner despite the lockdown in the region. On her way back home, she encountered the then-firearms officer, Wayne Couzens, who would wrongly arrest her. That night, Couzens took Everard into his rented car and drove her 80 miles to Kent, England – close to where he lived. He strangled her, burnt her and later dumped her body in the woods. What started as an innocent dinner between two friends, ended in the kidnapping, rape and murder of a young woman. 

Everard’s death started a movement in social media in the UK as well as overseas in America to protect women against these gender-based crimes, also known as misogyny. Misogyny is not considered a hate crime in the UK nor in the US. A hate crime is defined as an act of violence that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, or other grounds. Gender is not one of these grounds. Despite the lack of a law against misogyny, many debates have taken place over the years to make this legislation into fruition. However, it has continuously failed. 

Months after Everard’s death, while women still cope with being unsafe in the streets due to their gender, the question of why there is no law in existence that protects women against these heinous acts remains unanswered. 

In 2018, in a debate on the issue, then Equalities Minister Victoria Atkins from the UK told Parliament they “must be careful about creating laws that would inadvertently conflict with principles of equality.” 

While I understand the argument that opposes misogyny being a hate crime, I do not think this is realistic. Despite the obvious fact that everyone deserves the same protection under the law, it is clear that there is a problem that threatens women’s safety, not men’s. Ignoring this problem would be ignorant and irresponsible. 

The question of why there is no law in existence that protects women against these heinous acts remains unanswered. ”

— Maria Villarroel

1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner in 2005, according to the National Organization for Women, NOW. That’s an average of three women every day. At the same time, 232,960 women in the U.S were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women everyday. It is clear that women are the targets for many crimes in the US as well as overseas. It is not an issue of equality anymore, but rather of equity. Lawmakers should focus on protecting their citizens and meeting their needs to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

I fear that if this is not done, more cases like Everard in the UK, or more recently Gaby Petito in the US will become more common. 

If you, or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).