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Should sexism eventually become a hate crime in Europe?

“Back in September 2015I had been moving back home after a night out. I had been on the telephone with my boyfriend, so I did not realize someone was after me. I felt a slap on the buttocks. As soon as I turned, a man tried to pull my underwear and he then clutched my wrists, then attempting to trap me.

October 2015. During rush hour, at a remarkably complete bus, a guy retained’ falling’ on me and nudging me about the breastfeeding. When he pulled closer, I realized that he had been masturbating against my own body.

December 2015. On the subway, a guy sat facing me and began asking me private things I did not need to reply to. As soon as I thought he’d give up, he took his phone out and I discovered the indistinct sound of 2 camera clicks taking photos of me.

I was fearful, but that I was not hurt, therefore that I never thought about reporting those episodes to the authorities”.

Beatrice was a 20-year-old pupil when all of these episodes occurred to her. However a 2014 large-scale poll by Hollaback! And Cornell University reported that, normally, over 81,5percent of European women are harassed before age 17.

Some nations have started to attack the matter, extending hate crime protection to girls.

A hate crime is a prejudice-motivated offense that happens when a perpetrator aims a victim due to their membership in a particular social group or race.

2 decades after, Nottinghamshire Police had been the primary force in the UK to document road and sexual harassment because of misogyny.

Even though the majority of the signs are coming from girls, the Commission will assess whether”gender or sex” as a protected feature should contain men and women or girls only.

The Italian Parliament will talk about an identical bill in October. But much of this political argument has centered on the security extended to sexual orientation and gender equality, as Italy is among the few European nations lacking laws on homo and transphobia.

The law would penalize the propaganda of both hateful thoughts and acts of provocation, but a newly added modification reaffirms the principle of freedom of expression and opinion. “In theory, it’s a commendable initiative, since it aims at protecting delicate men and women. But I am afraid its application will not be simple, about differentiating what constitutes freedom of speech and what’s offense” says Simona Catania, a criminal attorney who provides counseling to abused girls.

The new bill would present greater sentences whenever other offenses are committed due to the sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the victim. “What’s positive, however, is the expansion of free legal help to such victims” she adds. “Often they do not press charges because they can’t afford the price of a procedure”.

“This is the image stuck in my head, people’s indifference”

On two of those events mentioned previously, Beatrice was in a public room. However, when she reached out to assistance, she had been left alone.

“On the subway, a bunch of boys just laughed at me. On the bus, feverish and tearful, I recall folks looking directly at me, wild-eyed, pupils and adults, and they said nothing. This is the image stuck in my head, people’s indifference”.

“Many men and women are unaware that this type of harassment occurs, and if they see a girl asking for assistance or battling back, they do not understand how to respond” affirms Roberta Masella, creator of NextStopMi, an institution born in 2019 to stop gender-based public violence and to encourage secure and harassment-free surroundings on public transportation.

After attempting to associate with the Municipality of Milan with no achievement, they achieved to neighborhood councils and intended consciousness events in colleges, until COVID-19 hit.

They keep their activities on social networking, using ironic tones and images to exorcise the anxiety of their harasser. “we would like to change men’s and women’s understanding of the matter. If each time we’re plagued we maintain diminishing, the series won’t be broken” claims Masella.

She believes the new Italian law isn’t publicized enough and so is doubtful about its consequences.

“It all depends on how it’s going to be implemented. If a perpetrator isn’t punished, he’ll probably continue his behavior. And there’s still a propensity to downplay and blame people who dare to speak about discriminating behaviors”, she concludes.

Beatrice agrees that women do not often discuss harassment. “When I discuss my adventures, other ladies speak about their stories and invite me for making them feel less lonely”, while men are often unaware that these episodes occur so often or they are inclined to downsize them.

“However, it strikes you: you wonder the way to best apparel when you venture out, attempting to prevent any type of harassment. And then it occurs anyway”.

A European Strategy

Assessing a phone by the Committee of Ministers, the European Women’s Lobby is currently implementing an awareness campaign named Sexism: Watch it. Name it. Stop it!

Their effort is targeting society at large as”regular sexism is quite much associated with the constant violence against girls and women”, being it verbal or physical.

Additionally, it requires that states monitor the execution of anti-sexist policies at the federal level and report back to the Council of Europe.

“We want women, and guys too, to realize that sexism isn’t acceptable, in almost any area,” says Fernandes. “We need boys and men to realize cultural norms and gender stereotypes can also be damaging for these, and we would like them to become our allies. So I’m in favor of making this recommendation observable”.