Welsh Women’s Aid response to the UK Government tabling the Domestic Abuse Bill

Today, the UK Government have introduced the Domestic Abuse Bill, which has been in progress for the past two years.

Tina Reece, Head of Engagement at Welsh Women’s Aid said:

“Welsh Women’s Aid welcomes the launch of the long awaited Bill, and we are pleased to see Theresa May was able to introduce it before leaving Parliament. We have been involved throughout this process submitting written and oral evidence and ensuring survivors and specialist services working on violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in Wales are represented.”

The Bill introduces:

  • The first UK Government definition of domestic abuse, including financial abuse and coercive controlling and manipulative non-physical behaviour.
  • Proposals for an England Domestic Abuse Commissioner who will work with the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Advisors in Wales.
  • Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, which would allow police and courts to intervene earlier if domestic abuse is suspected.
  • Prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts.
  • Automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts.

However, although we are very pleased to see the tabling of this Bill and all of the positive new protections it should bring, we remain concerned that it has been rushed and therefore could still fail to protect, support and advocate for survivors all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. We do acknowledge that the UK Government has still committed to continue work on the Bill as it progresses.

Welsh Women’s Aid concerns include:

  • The Bill doesn’t currently recognise that women are disproportionately the victims / survivors of domestic violence and abuse and continues to have a “gender neutral” approach.
  • The Bill as it stands fails to cover all forms of abuse including forced marriage, female genital mutilation, so-called “honour” based violence and rape. By not covering these types of abuse, there is a missed opportunity to hold perpetrators of these forms of abuse to account.
  • The Bill currently also fails to have any clear commitment to support migrant women, especially women with no recourse to public funds.
  • The Bill does not yet give any assurances to the protection of specialist women’s support services in England (this is devolved in Wales).

We know that violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is everybody’s business. This has been a societal issue for many many years and we will continue to work to see that this legislation has the most positive and wide ranging impact for survivors in Wales.

Anyone affected by violence against women, domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, via email – [email protected], via live chat, or text – 07860077333 for 24/7 confidential information and support.