THE Scottish Government has been urged to make misogyny a hate crime in response to the “national emergency” of violence against women.

The Labour justice spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, issued the plea in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, who was killed by a serving police officer.

McNeill said that thousands of women in Scotland were the victims of violence and abuse each year, a situation highlighted by Everard's horrific murder in London. 

The Labour MSP stated: “It is beyond dispute that violence against women is a national emergency – but action has been woefully lacking.”

McNeill, who recently the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain to discuss issues of violence against women, insisted: “It should not take horrific, high-profile cases to spur the Government into action.

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“It’s high time that the SNP wakes up to the endemic nature of misogyny and acts now to make it a hate crime.”

A working group set up by the Scottish Government and led by Helena Kennedy QC on whether misogyny should be a distinct crime is due to report to ministers next year.

And the Justice Secretary, Keith Brown, said at the weekend that “it may well be that we end up, depending on her recommendations, with a stand alone offence of misogyny”.

McNeill said that was “encouraging” – but she claimed the Government had “failed to act time and time again”.

The Labour MSP said: “From criminal justice to social security to planning, there is so much more that could be done here and now to improve women’s lives.

“Every day of delay is another day that women are left behind, without these added protections.

“We know that thousands of women each year are the victims of violence and abuse.”

Labour had pushed for misogyny to be included when Holyrood considered legislation on hate crime, but its attempts were unsuccessful.

In addition to making misogyny a hate crime, the party wants a Victims’ Commissioner to be established and for the controversial Not Proven verdict in Scots law to be abolished.