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European rights watchdog sets legal 'first' with sexism definition

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AFP Strasbourg
The Council of Europe rights group said Thursday that it had formulated the first internationally agreed definition of sexism, in a bid to help governments put an end to discrimination and violence against women.
In recommendations to its 47 member states, the council made a specific link between prejudice and violence against women, and urged governments to criminalise "sexist hate speech".
The call for more intense actions comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexist assault which emerged in the wake of the slew of allegations against Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein in 2017.
"Acts of 'everyday' sexism are part of a continuum of violence creating a climate of intimidation, fear, discrimination, exclusion and insecurity which limits opportunities and freedom," the council said.
It called on government leaders and other public figures to promptly denounce discriminatory speech or acts in order to combat longstanding gender stereotypes.
The text defines sexism as acts, speech or imagery which are "based on the idea that a person or a group of persons is inferior because of their sex."

Such behaviours expose women to hostile or humiliating environments as well as physical and psychological suffering, the council said.
Governments are also urged to ensure "non-stereotypical communication" that would raise public awareness against the "hegemony of the masculine model." It emphasised a particular effort in the digital domain, warning that anonymity on the internet and social media can foster the spread of "abusive thoughts" that can encourage sexist behaviour.

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First Published: Mar 28 2019 | 7:05 PM IST

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