Today, the House of Commons debated the second reading of the Domestic Abuse bill. This is an incredibly important piece of legislation, which will make vital steps forward in strengthening support for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse. I support the principle of this bill and its provisions, but it is important that it is scrutinised closely and that every detail is right, in order to provide the strongest possible set of protections. To this effect, Labour will be seeking amendments to the Bill during its committee stage in Parliament.
Crucially, I believe that the Bill must ensure survivors of domestic abuse have easier access to social housing. There is a clear link between domestic abuse and homelessness. In 2018/19, an estimated 23,430 families who were at risk of homelessness has experienced domestic violence. I regularly support abuse survivors attempting to flee to safety who are unable to due to difficulties accessing safe and secure housing. You can see my intervention in an earlier reading of the bill below.
I also fully support my colleague Harriet Harman’s cross-party campaign to end the use of the ‘rough sex’ defence. No perpetrator of violent attacks or murder should be able to blame their victim or use their victim’s sexuality as a defence in court. I am pleased that as a result of this campaign, the Home Office has also committed to a review of the ‘rough sex’ defence.
I am very concerned to see an increase in reports of domestic abuse during the Coronavirus lockdown. Labour is calling for emergency aid for shelters and services to maintain their provision throughout the current crisis. If you feel that you are at risk of domestic abuse at this time, it is important to seek help when it is safe to do so.
Advice from Women’s Aid on how to seek help can be found here: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/?gclid=CjwKCAjwqJ_1BRBZEiwAv73uwDNCTb-Lw5lPe9kL7Q7xvHHfvozCAwgC8VrAoeoi3tCxZH3MCPpeABoClkIQAvD_BwE
If you are living in Lambeth you can contact the Gaia Centre on 020 7733 8724.
If you are living in Southwark you can contact the Southwark Advocacy and Support Services on 020 7539 1290
In an emergency you should always call 999.