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Archive for July 2011

Domestic abuse and Clare’s Law: why I’m against it

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Originally published on The Pryer: 22/07/2011


In February 2009, 36-year-old Clare Wood was murdered by her partner, a man she had met on Facebook. Her killer, George Appleton, set her body on fire and subsequently hanged himself. Despite her family’s horrific loss, I have noticed much of the focus is on how Clare met her ex partner: through Facebook.

It is said that if she had known of his previous convictions, she would never have formed a relationship with him. That could be true, but would this debate exist if she had met him in a bar or a club or even in a coffee shop? Somehow I doubt it.

Hazel Blears, MP for Salford, said earlier this week: “Women in Clare’s situation often are unaware of their partner’s previous relationships and this can mean they start a relationship with someone with no idea if they have a violent past.”

Blears’ statement clearly shows a lack of knowledge in domestic violence. Can we always rely on the fact that sexual offenders are convicted? What if a man had no previous convictions – then what? Out of fear a lack of confidence in the current system, some women are reluctant to report abuse to the police.

In this country, we need to tackle how we punish those who are abusive towards their partners. Too often, victims of domestic abuse are let down by the legal system. Her case is like many others. In 2004 Tania Moore was shot dead by Mark Dyche, her former boyfriend. He had previous convictions for threatening to kill his ex-wife and for possession of an offensive weapon. Tania’s murder was the culmination of over twelve month’s harassment and physical abuse.

Living in twenty-first century Britain, we are told that everyone should be treated equally, in society and under the law. However, the proposal for a Clare’s Law does not mention if men will be able to check if their partners have previous convictions of domestic violence.

Under Clare’s Law, any male can now be subject to such infringements of civil liberties. Yet, if a woman checks into her partner’s criminal record that an abusive relationship does exist, what proof will the police require? Will this cover gay couples too?

There is a key assumption here that women are the only victims of domestic abuse. Support organisation Women’s Aid says one in four women will be subjected to domestic violence, while one in six men will suffer from it, according to the latest British Crime Survey figures. Are women always the victims and men the aggressors?

Jean Candler, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), said: “Under the Human Rights Act, the police already have obligations to take positive steps to intervene to protect women who are known to be at risk of harm, and they should be doing more under these obligations to protect the victims and survivors of domestic violence.”

How long before our personal rights and freedoms are completely eroded by the state?

A Clare’s Law is not the answer. We need to redress the current situation. It is already the case that the police often fail to contact victims who have reported domestic violence when the alleged perpetrator is released on bail, and a lack of resources is often cited for this failure.

Our time would be best spent looking into how both men and women alike can have the courage to report abuse and see that justice is served in the courts, not wait until it is too late.

Written by Iram Ramzan

July 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

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