Labour urges government to make misogyny a hate crime and increase rapists' sentences

14 March 2021, 07:35 | Updated: 14 March 2021, 13:29

Labour is calling for the government to make misogyny a hate crime
Labour is calling for the government to make misogyny a hate crime. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Labour is urging ministers to make misogyny a hate crime and increase minimum sentences for rapists and stalkers to help protect women and girls from violence.

The party has demanded cross-party action following the suspected murder of 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home from a friend's flat in south London on 3 March.

Labour MPs have called for sweeping reforms when the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill comes before the Commons.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said the legislation is a "once in a generation" chance to make significant changes to England's laws, while shadow minister for domestic violence Jess Phillips said it is "long overdue".

The opposition wants the Bill to be used to increase sentences for stalkers and rapists.

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They have also pressed the government to introduce whole life tariffs for anyone found guilty of abduction and sexual assault and murder of a stranger.

Labour demanded ministers legislate to make misogyny a hate crime and for a strategy to be introduced to tackle misogynistic attitudes.

Mr Lammy said: "In its once in a generation sentencing reform Bill, the government should work with Labour to tackle the crisis of violence against women that is forcing women across the country to live in fear.

"The government should start by increasing sentences for the most serious criminals like stalkers and rapists, while working to drive up the appallingly low levels of convictions for sexual violence and domestic abuse."

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Ms Phillips said: "Tackling the misogyny that drives this violence, and helping to end the intimidation and harassment so many women experience daily, is long overdue.

"The government could be making these changes now."

The legislation is expected to receive its second reading in the Commons this week.

Labour will submit its proposals as amendments during committee stage.