Tackle misogyny and gender-fuelled hate with more urgency, Sarwar says

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar visited a boxing gym run by the head of a domestic abuse charity.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (left) said the omission of mysogyny in cate crime legislation is a fundamental flaw (John Linton/PA)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (left) said the omission of mysogyny in cate crime legislation is a fundamental flaw (John Linton/PA)

The omission of gender-based violence and misogyny is a “fundamental flaw” in Scotland’s hate crime laws, Anas Sarwar has said.

The Scottish Labour leader expressed dismay that prejudice and hate is often fuelled by gender issues and called for more urgent action to tackle it.

We know that the single greatest hate came is still one of misogyny

Anas Sarwar

The Scottish Government is considering whether to make misogynistic harassment a standalone offence, with a taskforce examining whether it should be incorporated into hate crime legislation.

Mr Sarwar visited the BXNG boxing studio, which works with victims of domestic violence and bullying, speaking to women who had been affected as well as the head of the In Your Corner charity, which offers self-defence classes.

At the studio in Milngavie, near Glasgow Mr Sarwar said that gender-based hate is a “stain on our society” and added: “We should be working endlessly to try and correct that immediately.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (John Linton/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “We know that the single greatest hate came is still one of misogyny; women are still the greatest victims of hate crime and we know that the perpetrators are more often than not men.

“That’s not a coincidence, there’s a real gendered nature to prejudice and hate.

“So how we call that out, how we support people is really important, and then how we put support services in place. That’s why supporting Women’s Refuge centres where that’s appropriate… it’s about having adequate powers in terms of policing when appropriate, but also making sure we’re upping the conviction rates.

“Because you see already that the conviction rates are really, really low around domestic violence and around misogyny.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (left) spars with owner Paul Donnelly during a visit to BXNG boxing studio near Glasgow (John Linton/PA)

Asked about the work the Scottish Government is doing to consider making misogyny an offence, Mr Sarwar said: “We supported the Hate Crime Bill in the end, but at every stage we tried to amend it to include sex as a key characteristic.

“I think it’s still a fundamental flaw in that legislation that misogyny and sexism is not included in the hate crime legislation and we should be working endlessly to try and correct that immediately, we shouldn’t waste any time.”

Paul Donnelly, who owns the gym and runs the domestic abuse charity In Your Corner, said the pandemic has had a “massive impact” on victims who have essentially been “locked in with their abusers for so long now”.

You have to teach young men what boundaries are, what limits are, and what is appropriate behaviour

Paul Donnelly, In Your Corner

After talking to Mr Donnelly, who also works as an actor appearing in the Outlander television series, Mr Sarwar said that his “entrepreneurship and social responsibility is at the heart of Labour’s vision for the type of society we should aspire to be”.

“This is a really important project and I’m really delighted to support it,” he added.

Mr Donnelly explained that the charity runs self-defence classes and helps young people with bullying and their mental health charities but said: “It’s not enough just to teach women how to protect themselves.

“You have to teach young men what boundaries are, what limits are, and what is appropriate behaviour, and nobody does that any more.”

Revealing how he teaches boxing students about consent, he added: “You’ve got to take a stand and educate young boys just as much as you teach women how to protect themselves.”

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