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Does the new domestic abuse bill go far enough?

The new domestic abuse bill

The second reading of the new Domestic Abuse Bill is due to be heard tomorrow (Tuesday 5 January) in the House of Lords. The bill will introduce a new definition of domestic abuse, extra protection for victims and witnesses in court, and removes the so-called “rough sex” defence. 

However, campaigners are concerned that the bill does not go far enough and that some outstanding issues need to be addressed – particularly making non-fatal strangulation a separate offence.

So, we asked Sarah Jane Lenihan, Partner from our family law team in London who has extensive experience of working with victims of domestic abuse to explain how the bill will help victims of abuse moving forward. 

Tomorrow, we see the second reading of the domestic abuse bill in the House of Lords. 

This is welcomed progress towards an amendment of legislation that those of us who regularly work with victims are pleased to see; however, there is much debate about whether the bill goes far enough. 

It is proposed that the bill will include, for the first time,  a statutory definition of domestic abuse which will include emotional, coercive and controlling behaviours and economic abuse – all of which we have seen a rise in during the pandemic.  

The bill proposes tighter regulations on local authorities to provide victims with safe accommodation and hold the government accountable for reported recommendations within tighter timescales.  

The proposed bill will also finally see the removal of the defence of ‘rough sex.’ Sadly, despite campaigning and the fact that strangulation occurs in many of the murders of women by their (ex) partner, the bill does not make non-fatal strangulation a separate offence.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the reading tomorrow, and I hope that any changes are implemented promptly, particularly as we continue to live in lockdown conditions. 

Domestic abuse rates have soared during the Covid-19 pandemic; the National Domestic Abuse reported a 66% increase in the number of telephone calls between March-May 2020. 

We need new legislation to be passed and implemented as soon as possible to help support the victims once they find the strength to seek help.

Get in touch 

If you in an abusive relationship and would like any advice on domestic abuse and your legal situation, please do contact our Client Care Team to speak to one of our specialist domestic abuse lawyers here.

Useful contacts

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327

The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428

Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123

Sarah advises on all areas of family law (divorce/dissolution, cohabitation, domestic violence, children) and has worked with a broad spectrum of clients both nationally and internationally.

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  1. Mr T says:

    Domestic abuse rates have soared during the Covid-19 pandemic; the National Domestic Abuse reported a 66% increase in the number of telephone calls between March-May 2020.

    Yet when you ask for proof turns out its less than when not in lockdown, go figure?!

  2. Andrew says:

    A Bill which allows a police officer to make you homeless in the middle of the night during a pandemic on the unsworn word of someone who will be legally aided if it comes to court, when you won’t, and whom you can’t cross-examine on her evidence can hardly be said not to go far enough.

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