I SPOKE at Holyrood last week about new misogyny legislation. This impacts everyone in East Lothian but the experience of women and girls differs from that of men and boys.

The proposal to criminalise misogyny (literally: contempt for women) addresses multiple forms of daily life harassment – behaviour that belittles or demeans women and girls, resulting in them being embarrassed, frightened or, in the worst cases, physically threatened.

Misogynistic harassment places barriers to the full and equal participation in national life of half of the population, a situation so serious and widespread many might be shocked that misogyny is not already criminal.

Introducing the legislation, MSP Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP and cabinet secretary for justice, demonstrated that misogyny and sexual harassment were “the reality for women and girls in Scotland”.

Although husbands, sons and fathers may find this behaviour towards partners, relatives and friends unacceptable, Keith Brown confronted a challenging truth: if all men found contempt for women unacceptable then it would not be as commonplace as it is.

My speech commended the work of Strut Safe, a charity initiative that helps anyone who feels unsafe when walking in public, and also calls for sexual harassment in public places to be made illegal. According to a 2021 United Nations Women report, 97 per cent of women aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment.

Thousands of women in Scotland, of all ages, suffer verbal abuse, sexual advances, touching, flashing and other threats; they report feeling scared, powerless or humiliated whenever they go out. We must double our efforts in tackling misogyny, hearing the views of girls and women as equals in Scottish society. Violence against them must be rejected, ensuring they thrive socially, culturally, economically and politically.

The key role for men is to eradicate the abuse of women from their behaviour and call it out whenever and wherever they see it. Passing this legislation will help further transform gender equality that has already delivered Scotland’s first female First Minster, many women MPs, MSPs and councillors, and hundreds of thousands of women in varied roles across the country.

This is the next step in creating a modern and equal society.