Feminist Review

, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

addressing violence against women as a form of hate crime: limitations and possibilities

  • Aisha K Gill
  • Hannah Mason-Bish


In 1998, the Labour government introduced legislation broadening British sentencing powers in relation to crimes aggravated by the offender’s hostility towards the victim’s actual or perceived race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. Gender is a notable omission from this list. Through a survey of eighty-eight stakeholders working in the violence against women (VAW) sector, this paper explores both the potential benefits and possible disadvantages of adding a gender-based category concerned with VAW to British hate crime legislation. The majority of participants believed that a hate crime approach would offer significant benefits, especially in terms of the symbolic power of the law to send a message to society that VAW is unacceptable. However, most also recognised that the addition of a VAW category to current legislation would involve major practical and conceptual difficulties, not least those resulting from problematic assumptions about the nature of hate crimes versus VAW, and a general unwillingness on the part of policy-makers to address the socio-cultural inequalities that underpin VAW. Overall, the fact that the majority of participants favoured inclusion, on the basis that the possible symbolic benefits were likely to outweigh the potential practical disadvantages, is significant: it speaks to the power of hate crime legislation to challenge many forms of inequality and discrimination still endemic in British society.


criminal justice responses hate crime policy development violence against women 


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© Feminist Review 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aisha K Gill
  • Hannah Mason-Bish

There are no affiliations available

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