- July 19, 2021
- By Nazia Rashid
- 0 comments
14th July – National Day of Remembrance for Honour Killings & New Domestic Abuse Act
National Day of Remembrance
14th July is the National Day of Remembrance for victims of so-called honour-based abuse. This date was chosen because it marks the birthday of Shafilea Ahmed. Shafilea was born in Bradford and murdered by her parents in 2003 in Warrington in a so-called honour-based killing. Shafilea’s badly decomposed remains were found by a flooded river in Cumbria.
Shafilea was born on 14 July 1986 in Bradford. She did very well at school and hoped to study law. However, in February 2003, her parents drugged her and took her to Pakistan to force her into a marriage. Shafilea objected to this and self-harmed. Upon return to the UK in September 2003 Shafilea enrolled into a local college and a week later she was murdered by her parents. Her parents killed her by strangling and smothering her. This criminal act took place in front of Shafilea’s four younger siblings. After disposing of her body, her family carried on with life as normal. It was not until 2012, 9 years after her murder, that her parents were convicted and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
Issues which relate to “so-called honour-based abuse” are very complex. They have little to do with any religious belief and are usually as a result of cultural and traditional views which tend to be imported from abroad.
Domestic Abuse Act 2021
As most will know the Domestic Abuse Bill passed both Houses of Parliament and was signed into law on 29 April 2021. Many will say, it is long overdue but certainly a welcome development. During the pandemic, the reporting of domestic abuse soared worldwide.
The Domestic Abuse Act aims to provide further protection to individuals who are subjected to domestic abuse whilst offering assistance to perpetrators.
Some key features are:
For the very first time, the Domestic Abuse Act has created a statutory definition of domestic abuse. The definition recognises that domestic abuse is not physical abuse alone, but that it will include coercive and controlling behaviour and economic abuse. This should widen the forms of abuse that a court considers.
The definition also recognises that children will also be subjected to domestic abuse if they witness the abuse by either seeing, hearing or otherwise are impacted by the abuse.
Offence of non-strangulation
There is now a new offence of non-fatal strangulation. Many of us who have undertaken domestic abuse work for many years will have had cases involving non-fatal strangulation and welcome this key development of the law. This will cover where there has been intentional strangling of another person or any other act which could impact one’s breathing.
The offence of “revenge porn” will cover the threat to disclose intimate images with an intention to cause the victim distress.
Coercive & controlling behaviour
Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, created the offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.
The Domestic Abuse Act widens the remit of who is “personally connected” which will include former partners and family members who do not live together. It will also include coercive and controlling behaviour which takes place after the parties have separated.
Consent to serious harm for sexual gratification not a defence
The defence often cite that the victim consented to the infliction of the serious harm for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification can no longer be pleaded.
Special measures for victims
The Act also creates a statutory presumption that victims of domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal, civil and family courts. This will include the ability to give evidence via video link.
The Act also provides a prohibition against perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in family and civil courts in England and Wales.
Domestic Abuse Orders
The Act provides for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order, which will prevent perpetrators from contacting their victims, as well as forcing them to take positive steps to change their behaviour.
This can include:
- seeking mental health support;
- a requirement that the perpetrator cannot:
- come within a specified distance of any premises in England and Wales in which the survivor lives,
- may not come within a specified distance of any other specified premises,
- if both the perpetrator and survivor live in the same property, the order can prohibit the perpetrator from evicting or excluding the survivor from the premises, prohibit the perpetrator from entering the premises or require the perpetrator to leave the premises.
- a Domestic Abuse Protection Order could also require the perpetrator to submit to electronic monitoring in England and Wales or the perpetrator’s compliance with other requirements imposed by the Order.
Other key developments:
The Act also:
- provides that all eligible homeless victims of domestic abuse are automatically given priority need for homelessness assistance,
- places the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme known as Claire’s Law on a statutory footing.
- prohibits GPs and other health professionals from charging a victim of domestic abuse for a letter to support an application for Legal Aid.
It also for the first time, establishes in law the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, who is currently Nicole Jacobs, whose duty it will be to provide public leadership on domestic abuse issues and play a key role in overseeing and monitoring the provision of domestic abuse services in England and Wales.
The Commission will be tasked with encouraging good practice in preventing domestic abuse, identifying victims and survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse, as well as children affected by domestic abuse, and improving the protection and provision of support to people affected by domestic abuse.
How successful the Domestic Abuse Commissioner role shall be, will be tested by time. One thing for sure is that there must be widespread awareness of what amounts to domestic abuse, or simply put, what is unacceptable behaviour in circumstances where individuals are connected and in particular in family relationships. Furthermore, abusive, controlling or coercive behaviour committed in the disguise of ‘honour’ must be called out as a crime and tacked head-on; it has no place in any community.
Our approach – cases involving domestic abuse & harmful practices
At Anthony Gold we take a firm, robust and sensitive approach to cases involving various forms of harmful practices. Whether you are being forced into a marriage, at risk of FGM (or have been a victim of it) or are being subjected to any other form of domestic abuse, including coercive and controlling behaviour and financial abuse, we will advise you promptly and carefully.
These are complex cases and when issues of religion and culture are a dominant feature, these factors can add additional concerns and pressures upon the one being subjected to the abuse. We take a non-judgmental approach and pride ourselves on being able to advise on a variety of matters enabling individuals to leave abusive relationships and obtain urgent protective orders, including urgent financial provision for separating spouses, and urgent orders in relation to the arrangements for children including orders preventing a child from being removed to another part of the country or taken abroad.
If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship and would like to discuss your matter in confidence, please do get in touch with us. If you are in an abusive relationship and would like urgent confidential advice, please contact Nazia Rashid on 020 7940 4000.
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*
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