A safe, just and equal world for women

Advance statement on domestic abuse homicides

April 10, 2024
Too many women and girls are killed at the hands of men due to failures in the criminal justice system.

This week alone, we have heard the story of Kulsuma Akter who, while pushing her baby in a buggy, was killed by a man already known to both police and magistrates due to being on bail for assault and threats to kill her. We also heard the story of Holly Bramley, who was killed by her husband despite confiding in police officers about the abuse she endured, which included the brutal killing of her pets.

We have watched documentary after documentary detailing the missed opportunities to protect women, like the case of Fawziyah Javed, who died after being pushed off a cliff by her husband. Every year on International Women’s Day, we listen to Jess Phillips MP read the names of dead women killed by men. We have watched in awe and in grief as parents of domestic homicide victims fight tirelessly for real change and to protect other women from the same fate.

Too often we hear of women whose deaths could have been avoided. A total of 242 domestic abuse-related deaths were recorded last year. The majority of victims were female and 4 out of 5 perpetrators were previously known to police.

We need to see urgent and radical changes in the response to domestic abuse, including multi-agency working at every point of the criminal justice system – from police to probation. Tackling violence against women and girls is everyone’s business and must become a national priority.

We demand that all political parties, including the current Government, commit to the following:

  • Ring-fenced funding of £238 million per year, as called for by Refuge, for community-based domestic abuse support. This must include specialist ‘led by and for services’, which are culturally competent and appropriate, to address the structural racism and other forms of bias that exist within criminal justice systems.
  • Independent advocates embedded throughout the criminal justice system to support victims and work with police, magistrates and other professionals to properly assess risks posed by perpetrators.
  • A statutory duty for every police officer or force to immediately refer all victims/survivors who report their abuse to specialist support services. Referrals should be made regardless of the action taken on their case and the level of risk attributed by non-specialist police staff.
  • A statutory duty on local authorities to provide specialist advocacy support to all victims/survivors within their communities.
  • The re-establishment and accreditation of a national network of Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts, including establishing the rights of victims to access them and special measures to ensure these courts are adhering to the principles that class them as specialist.

Without immediate drastic change, more women will die.

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