Sexual violence being promoted by British far right, according to new analysis

Pro-rape comments and misogyny are rampant in far-right spaces, Hope Not Hate report suggests

Joanna Taylor
Tuesday 28 September 2021 01:44 BST
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Louise Thomas

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A culture that actively promotes sexual violence as a political weapon has taken root among the far-right and pro-rape comments are not uncommon in online extremist spaces, new analysis suggests.

The far-right is moreover adept at steering people with anti-feminist prejudices towards racism and antisemitism, a report produced by British advocacy group Hope Not Hate and charity Antisemitism Policy Trust found.

The report comes after the shooting of five people in Plymouth by a 22-year-old man obsessed with “incel culture” last month. Jake Davison killed himself, his mother and four other people in the first fatal mass shooting in the UK in over a decade.

The murder of school teacher Sabina Nessa has also sparked conversations about gender-based violence in the UK and whether women’s safety has been improved since the killing of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer.

Researchers for Hope Not Hate analysed messages in far-right chat groups on the messaging app Telegram, finding that there was a “high level of tolerance of open misogyny” and that homophobic comments were also frequent.

“The misogyny commonly had a sexualised dimension,” the report says, adding: “the word “whore” closely followed “bitch” as the most popular misogynistic pejorative”. The report also states that reference to rape and comments promoting sexual violence were common in these spaces.

Telegram is just part of a “wider ecosystem” of prejudice, Hope Not Hate say, but is failing to take appropriate action against the hateful rhetoric shared on its software. The Independent has approached Telegram for comment.

Polling by Hope Not Hate has, moreover, found that antifeminist attitudes are widespread across all sections of society but particularly in young men who can become caught up in “antagonistic troll culture” and “bogus conspiracy theories”. More than a third of 16 to 24-year-olds in Britain believe that feminism is an ideology that displaces men, researchers found.

The government will try to tackle harmful online content through the Online Safety Bill, published in May, which seeks to improve internet regulation. But this shouldn’t discourage renewed efforts to target online hatred, the Antisemitism Policy Trust say.

Chief executive Danny Stone said: “The government’s forthcoming Online Safety Bill will target online harm but the approach must not be siloed. Intersectional abuse ... must be recognised and addressed for the pernicious dual harm that it is.”

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