Activists have welcomed reports that harassing women on the streets or in bars and making obscene comments to them could become an offense under the proposals to be released next week.
A review by the Law Commission will call for “public sexual harassment” and incitement to hatred against women to be criminal offenses, the Daily Telegraph reported.
However, the newspaper quoted Whitehall sources as saying that the commission – which advises the government on law reforms – will reject calls to make misogyny a hate crime, arguing it would be ineffective.
The Hate Crimes Commission review was originally ordered three years ago by Sajid Javid when he was Home Secretary.
The issue has since become the center of intense public interest following the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, which has led to a nationwide debate on violence against women. .
Gemma and Maya Tutton, co-founders of the Our Streets Now campaign, said the government should act urgently to implement the recommendation reported by the commission.
“The recognition of the existing legal loopholes by the Law Commission clearly shows that the government should urgently make public sexual harassment (PSH) a specific criminal offense,” they said in a joint statement.
“Our current legal framework to fight PSH is fragmented, outdated and has gaping holes, which means that a lot of behaviors fall through the cracks.
Rose Caldwell, chief executive of children’s charity Plan International UK, which has also campaigned on the issue, said a new law would send a clear message that such conduct is not acceptable.
“The government must act quickly on this recommendation and introduce a comprehensive new law designed to protect women and girls from the relentless threat of public sexual harassment,” she said.
“Girls as young as 10 years old are harassed, followed and touched, and this has a serious impact on their mental and physical health.
“A new law will send a clear message that this is not acceptable in our society. No girl should have to fear for their safety in our public spaces.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The government has asked the Law Commission to conduct a broad hate crime review to explore how to make the current legislation more effective and whether additional protected features should be added. to hate crime legislation.
“We will respond to their recommendations once published. “