Credit: AJ Duncan

The UK government is unwilling to fight the war on women

By Rothery Sullivan

Boris Johnson does not support misogyny becoming a hate crime, reinforcing the societal norm that women’s lives do not matter.

I knew in an instant that I picked the wrong route home. I saw them stumbling in the street in front of me, completely shattered with a bottle still in hand, tripping on and off the curb and slamming each other into the brick buildings that guarded the streets. Men who are drunk and rowdy aren’t safe to walk past, and the street I was on had few passing cars. I picked the wrong route home.

This thought process has passed through my head quite a few times in my lifetime, usually on my way home from a social gathering after dark. It’s always after dark that I’m most afraid. There are less witnesses around, cameras don’t have the best lighting and it’s the time most notoriously known for crime. Every winter my fear of walking home worsens as the darkness grows to take up most of the afternoon – simply walking home after class becomes dangerous. Especially as a university student, you can see my concern when I’m repeatedly told to “be careful” while I watch my careful peers still get harmed. So, you can imagine my anger at the news that Boris Johnson refused to make misogyny a hate crime. 

Boris Johnson does not support making misogyny a hate crime due to the existence of “abundant” legislation already in place to protect women. He argued that there are many laws “not being properly enforced, and that’s what we need to focus on.” Instead of putting more laws in place to hold assaulters accountable, the Prime Minister is instead asking women to take the responsibility to further protect themselves by downloading the 888 app, which will track our journey home. This app won’t protect us from harm, but will instead alert emergency services after the harm is done. Every three days a woman in the UK is killed by a man, and the prime minister really wants to tell me that misogyny isn’t a serious enough problem? Clearly the government does not care about the fear that women endure on a daily basis, and would rather give us an inch of “progress” to keep us quiet for the time being than do anything to protect us. I say we don’t keep quiet.

“Every three days a woman in the UK is killed by a man, and the prime minister really wants to tell me that misogyny isn’t a serious enough problem?”

I’m worried for my own safety as a university student. The laws that are made to protect young women aren’t working, as shown by the rise in sexual assault cases at universities across the UK. Channel 4 reported an 82% increase in sexual violence in universities in 2019, while sexual assault reports at universities have doubled in the last four years. With universities ignoring survivors and the NHS’s lack of adequate mental health services, I think I have good reason to be worried for my safety and wellbeing. Not only do I have to worry about being assaulted at university, but I also have to worry that my story will be ignored and that I won’t get the proper mental health care that I need. Really, Boris Johnson? Does it seem like we have enough laws in place to protect the youth of the UK? 

In fact, the laws are against us. For example, the time limit for assault is six months, resulting in nearly 13,000 cases being dropped over a five year period – this rule benefits no one except the alleged attacker. Sure, you could argue that this rule may benefit lazy law enforcers, but I think my point still stands. Most people aren’t able to process assault within the first six months. Due to gaslighting in the media, many don’t even realise they’ve been assaulted. When women are harmed, it’s a difficult, tiresome and traumatic process for them to report the incident within the time frame needed.

The reason problems around misogyny aren’t being addressed is because we aren’t acknowledging a serious crime. If misogyny was a hate crime, then there would be stronger punishment for assaulters, which would result in a drop in assaults overall. Moreover, survivors would be taken more seriously, which would make them feel validated and give them the space to heal. Misogyny causes violence against women, and it’s ridiculous that this is being overlooked. 


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