Our Policing leads, Jennifer Schmidt-Petersen, Programme & Student Lead, Policing Programmes and Dene Storr, Lecturer in Policing, look at misogyny and violence against women in our society and how attitudes continue to change.
Violence against women is a major problem world-wide and more needs to be done to bring it to a stop. The #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up’ movements have highlighted the issues that most women face on a daily basis and have started to shift attitudes. With the flashpoint case of Sarah Everard we again see the conversation around gender-based violence gaining momentum, and quite rightly so.
Research from The Fawcett Society (2018) has found that one year on from the outpouring of #MeToo stories, there was a significant shift in attitudes to sexual harassment. According to the research the majority of people (53%) said that since #MeToo what was seen as acceptable had changed.
Jennifer Schmidt-Petersen, Programme & Student Lead, Policing Programmes said: “This shift in attitudes is encouraging but more needs to be done. While blatant sexism and discrimination have become less overt in Western societies, sexual harassment and misogyny still exist in a number of ways. Due to anti-discrimination legislation sexism is now often more subtle and complex and can be harder to detect but it is still there. Education has an important role to play here and both young men and women need to be taught about the history and current state of women's rights in Britain and other countries around the world. Recent events have also shown the importance of taking serious and tackling sexual harassment in schools. It is vital that we continue to challenge gender stereotypes and victim blaming and that everyone from an early age on understands how harmful these ideas and attitudes are.”
It is important to not only recognize and acknowledge the anger and hurt, of women who feel that they are not treated fairly and who may feel powerless and not listened to, but also to take action and make meaningful changes in relevant areas of professional practice.
“In my view, it is an important step in the right direction that misogyny will now be recorded as a hate crime from autumn on because without recognising misogyny as a hate crime we risk further normalising what is completely unacceptable behaviour. Importantly we also know that there is an intersection of misogyny with other forms of hate, for example islamophobia, so monitoring and recording incidences is crucial to gain a full understanding of the problem and to effectively support victims.”
Without recognising misogyny as a hate crime many women feel they cannot report because they don’t feel they would be taken seriously this leaves them open to vulnerability and they feel unprotected in their communities.
It is crucial that police are representative of the public and that we have officers with lived experience of the systemic structural injustices and problems that are engrained in modern society.
Dene Storr, Lecturer in Policing at Ulaw says: “Figures from the Office for National Statistics for sexual offences in England and Wales reported as of the end of March 2020 that four in 10 victims were too embarrassed to formally report the offence. A third feared that the experience would be humiliating and 38% of women did not think that the police could help. This represents a huge injustice for women.
Police forces in England and Wales now have a perfect opportunity to not only promote safety and confidence among women and girls but to take positive action for their future. Only when women and girls feel empowered and supported can they be confident that incidences will not only be recorded but will be robustly investigated and justly prosecuted.”
This is not a case of men against women, we need men to be allies and to stand in solidarity with women with regard to the very important issue of misogyny and violence against women and girls. We need them to listen so that they can learn from our lived experience and then stand with us, speak out and take action.
Police have a key role to play in the fight against misogyny and violence against women and girls and we want the next generation of officers, regardless of gender, to be at the forefront of this important cultural change.
According to the Fawcett Society (2018) the biggest change has taken place in the 18-34 age group with over half of young people saying they are now more likely to speak up against sexual harassment, including 58% of young men. Only if we work together and make it everyone’s responsibility can we hope to successfully address the very serious issues of sexual violence, intimate partner violence and the daily abuses and harassments of women and girls.
Dene Storr, Lecturer in Policing continues, “what the police force needs now is a new generation of officers who come into the role aware of the issues women and girls face in day-to-day life and who strive to correct that injustice.”
If you're interested in a career in policing, learn more about our BSc Professional Policing now.
 Fawcett Society Research on the impact of #MeToo: https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/news/majority-of-young-men-more-likely-to-challenge-sexual-harassment-since-metoo
If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article then you can visit the following websites for support:
Women's Aid provides support for women who are experiencing or have experienced physical, mental, sexual or domestic violence or abuse.
Live Web Chat: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk/ (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-12pm)
The Survivors Trust
The Survivors Trust provides confidential information, advice and support for people who have experienced rape and sexual violence.
Telephone: 0808 801 0818 (Monday-Friday: 10am-8:30pm, Saturday from 10am-12:30pm, 1:30pm-4:30pm and 6pm-8:30pm and Sunday from 1:30pm-4:30pm and 6pm-8:30pm)
National Domestic Abuse Helpline (run by Refuge)
Refuge's National Domestic Abuse Helpline provides free, confidential support 24 hours a day to victims of domestic abuse and those who are worried about friends or loved ones.
Telephone: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours a day)
Email (via website): https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/Contact-us
Respect is a domestic abuse organisation which runs a confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families, as well as a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them.
Telephone: 0808 802 4040 (Monday-Friday 9am-8pm)
Men's Advice Line:
Telephone: 0808 8010 327 (Monday-Friday 9am-8pm)