The Scottish Government has released details of a taskforce created to consider whether misogynistic behaviour should be a standalone offence under Scots law.
Legal, gender and human-rights experts are among those appointed to the group, including human-rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, lawyer and former criminal investigator Susan Kem and Mona Rishmawi, head of the rule of law, equality and non-discrimination branch in the United Nations human rights commissioner’s office.
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The Scottish Government’s Hate Crime Bill would allow misogynistic harassment to become a standalone offence, also adding age prejudice to existing aggravating factors.
Baroness Helena Kennedy will lead the taskforce that will is due to have its first meeting later this month, with the aim of producing a report for the government on its findings from evidence sessions over the next 12 months.
Other members are Professor John Devaney from the University of Edinburgh, specialist in domestic abuse and gender-based violence, lawyer Shelagh McCall, a founding commissioner at the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Dr Chloe Kennedy, a law lecturer specialising in law and gender from the University of Edinburgh, and director of feminist advocacy organisation Engender Emma Ritch.
Kennedy said: “This is an important piece of work addressing the special forms of violence, transgression and abuse experienced by women which may emanate from misogyny.
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“The law often fails women and the panel will consider the law’s capacity to address such crimes.”
In Scotland, offences are currently aggravated by prejudice against a victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or their transgender status.
The Scottish Government’s proposed legislation would add the characteristic of age, with the potential to include sex at a later date, in order to make misogynistic harassment a standalone offence.
For Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, the expert panel will allow the issue to receive the “proper consideration” it deserves.
He said: “While Lord Bracadale, in his independent review of hate crime legislation, recommended that gender should be added to hate crime law, leading women’s organisations were opposed to this approach.
“They also called for misogyny to be considered as a standalone, criminal offence in Scotland.
“I am pleased to see that this important piece of work is now well under way, with an expert panel, appointed by Baroness Kennedy, to give this issue the proper consideration that it deserves.
“This marks another important milestone in making our society safe, equal and fair.”