The Free Church of Scotland’s Public Engagement Group has commended government proposals to reform the criminal law to address misogyny.
Organisations and bodies, such as the Free Church of Scotland, can respond to government consultations and provide comments about proposals. This latest consultation focuses on how women are treated particularly tackling misogynistic harassment.
Proposals have been put forward to create an offence of misogynistic harassment which relates to harassment of an identified victim or victims.
The Public Engagement Group supports the proposals, saying: “As Christians, we recognise the value, dignity and respect of all human beings who are made in the image of God. We also recognise the need to speak up for the vulnerable within our society. In a society which did not value women as equal with men, Jesus challenged social norms by elevating women and celebrating them as individuals. The Bible gives special protection to women in the Old Testament law and calls on us to see the often-overlooked abuse that goes on. The Apostle Paul said, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4). For all these reasons we welcome the proposals to criminalise misogynistic harassment as having no place in our society or any other society. While some existing laws could be applied to these types of behaviour the specific offence calls out abuse and makes a clear statement that these kinds of behaviour are completely unacceptable.”
The proposals look at the effects that misogynistic harassment has on women, and deals with that harassment being made in public, in private and online.
The group said: “We welcome the longer list of effects on the victim as an important step to recognise in law the horrendous effects that misogynistic harassment can have on women. The Government has taken care to understand the experiences described by women and we commend them for this. We also note the important qualification that women do not have to have actually experienced the effects but rather a reasonable person would consider the effects likely. In speaking with women within the Free Church of Scotland some described the ways in the past they would behave stoically in response to such behaviour but that does not mean the offender should not still be guilty of a criminal offence.”
The group added: “We agree with the report that misogynistic harassment is always wrong regardless of where it is committed. We also agree with the need to make sure that online behaviour can be prosecuted under this legislation as increasingly this is where the worst misogynistic harassment is taking place.”
The full consultation response is available here: Public Engagement Group – Free Church of Scotland