By Amber Milne and Darnell Christie
LONDON, Sept 23 (Openly) - Misogyny should be made a hate crime in England and Wales, the independent body that recommends legal change said on Wednesday, as it launched a consultation on updating hate crime laws.
The Law Commission said the proposal would give women specific protection from crimes such as assault and harassment where they were targeted on the basis of their sex.
Women's rights activists have long called for such protections, which already exist for race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity and can lead to harsher penalties for those convicted.
"Misogyny is the soil which violence against women and girls grows in and this is our chance to tackle it," said opposition lawmaker Stella Creasy, who has campaigned for the change.
"This review is a landmark opportunity for us to develop a hate crime law which is intersectional and reflects women and girls experiences of harassment and crime," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In a statement, she said seven police forces in Britain already treated misogyny as a hate crime, which had yielded results in tackling violence against women.
The consultation, which is open to experts as well as those who have experienced hate crime, is open until December 24 and will inform final recommendations to the government to be published next year.
It will also look at expanding hate crime protections on the basis of age, and expanding the offence of racist chanting at football matches to cover homophobic chanting.
"Hate crime has no place in our society and we have seen the terrible impact that it can have on victims," said Criminal Law Commissioner Penney Lewis.
"Our proposals will ensure all protected characteristics are treated in the same way, and that women enjoy hate crime protection for the first time."
(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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