In support of women’s refuges

Writing in The MJ, Claire warns that proposed legislation to help councils protect women facing domestic violence could end up with unintended consequences…

The brutal and tragic murder of Sarah Everard has started a national conversation on violence against women. Some of this seems overblown and teeters on scaremongering. I do not recognise this picture of femicide – an ‘epidemic of misogyny’ and institutionalised women-hating.

Kidnap and murder of lone women walking at night is rare. When the names of women killed at the hands of a man over the past year was read out by MP Jess Phillips in the House of Commons, the vast majority were women killed in domestic violence scenarios. Should Sarah’s murder be put into the same category? Might that be potentially insensitive and insulting to her boyfriend and male members of her family? Regardless, it was a reminder that domestic abuse is a real scourge and it is why the new Domestic Abuse Bill that is proceeding through the House of Lords, is important.

There is much to admire in the legislation. However, I have spoken about some reservations, such as over-broad definitions of both the terms ‘domestic’ and ‘abuse’ and the continued hybridisation of civil and criminal law that allows people to be criminalised without reaching the threshold of criminal proof. For all that, I was pleased to see the new statutory duty on local authorities to provide accommodation-based services for victims of domestic abuse and their children.

But there’s a catch: many in the Lords raised fears that this could have unintended consequences; that local authorities might simply redistribute funding away from community services in order to meet that statutory need…

Read the full article.