Today, 29 April 2021, the Domestic Abuse Bill has received Royal Assent, following a lengthy process which began four years ago.
We warmly welcome the passing of the Bill and amendments which were passed in the final reading in the House of Commons. Amendments made to the bill throughout its progress through parliament strengthen rules on controlling or coercive behaviour, criminalise threats to share intimate images without consent, and end the “rough sex defence” in court, along with making non-fatal strangulation a standalone offence and some progress on ensuring victims’ details are not shared with immigration control. We also greatly welcome the Bill’s recognition children as victims of domestic abuse in their own right.
The Domestic Abuse Bill provides real opportunity for a step change in the national response to domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG). This was only possible through listening to the expertise of survivors and the wider specialist sector and this engagement must continue into actioning these progressive measures. In this we are delighted the DA commissioners role is no longer ‘designate’ as this role has the potential to have transformative impact bringing accountability and independent scrutiny to implementation of the DA bill.
We do however stand by our view that the Bill does not fully protect and support all survivors and, therefore, fails to be the landmark piece of legislation it could have been. Despite efforts from the House of Lords, backing from a number of MPs and tireless campaigning from specialist ‘by and for’ services and survivors, the amendments to ensure protection and support for migrant women were voted down. We are deeply saddened by this missed opportunity to create routes to safety for all survivors and fully comply with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.1
Welsh Women’s Aid are pleased to have been part of the Bill’s development since its inception and will continue to monitor and engage to progress of its implementation to ensure maximum benefit for survivors in Wales.
Welsh Women’s Aid CEO, Sara Kirkpatrick said:
“Today as we recognise the tireless work of all those who have campaigned for so many years to make the Domestic Abuse Bill a reality. We are thankful for the survivors, specialist violence against women and girls services, the women’s sector at large and the political allies who have directly and indirectly championed what this Bill stands for and stood with us in our relentless desire to make Wales a safer place. This is not the end of our fight; we are devastated that some amendments that would have protected the most vulnerable survivors in our communities did not make the final Bill. While today we take the time to celebrate progress, tomorrow we continue the fight to end violence against all women and girls.”
Notes to editors
- For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Sophie Weeks (Media and External Relations Officer) at Welsh Women’s Aid on 07544 300983/ [email protected] or Gwendolyn Sterk, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at Welsh Women’s Aid on 02920541551, 07375559518 or email [email protected]. Welsh Women’s Aid is the national charity in Wales working to end domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women. We are a federation of specialist organisations in Wales (working as part of a UK network of services) that provide lifesaving services to survivors of violence and abuse – women, men, children, families – and deliver a range of innovative preventative services in local communities. More information is available at http://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/
- Anyone in Wales who is experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women or is concerned about someone else can contact the 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (phone: 0808 80 10 800, webchat: https://gov.wales/live-fear-free, text: 078600 77 333, email: [email protected]) for confidential help and support.