Briefing: The Domestic Abuse Bill 15/3/21

In light of the Domestic Abuse Bill, we will be publishing fortnightly briefings to provide survivors of domestic abuse, partner agencies and individuals supporting Juno’s mission, with parliamentary and sector-wide updates.

The Bill is now in the Report Stage, which commenced on the 8th of March, 2021.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding these briefings, please contact [email protected]

See our previous summary of the Bill here.

Recent headlines of the Domestic Abuse Bill

  • As part of the Report Stage of the Bill, amendment 48 which makes threatening to share intimate images and films a crime, was formally accepted by the government. See Refuge’s response here.
  • The post-separation abuse amendment, amendment 45, has now been accepted into the Bill. See the Surviving Economic Abuse briefing on this, alongside other supported amendments, here.

Recent developments

The UK Says No More campaign, which is a national campaign to raise awareness in order to end domestic abuse and sexual violence across the country, ran its annual NO MORE Week from 7 to 13 March 2021. This was an international opportunity to come together to raise awareness of sexual violence and domestic abuse and inspire communities and individuals to make a change.

Women’s Aid is advising the government to adopt the amendments proposed by Southall Black Sisters and the Step-Up Migrant Women campaign. “Without these changes, migrant women will continue to face homelessness and destitution.”

Report Stage of the Domestic Abuse Bill

The Bill’s Report stage has begun in the House of Lords. Watch here and read full debate of the first Report day here.

The Report stage of the Bill gives the members of the House of Lords another opportunity to assess and make any amendments to the Bill. During the Report stage, an examination of the Bill continues, and any member of the House of Lords can take part and vote on any amendment. After the Report stage, the Bill is reprinted which will include all the newly agreed amendments. The Bill then moves to a third reading, which is a final chance for the House of Lords to consider and amend the Bill.

The House of Lords has supported an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which includes disabled people and their carers in the definition of domestic abuse.

The House of Lords has also voted for mandatory judicial training on domestic abuse for magistrates and judges in the Family Courts to be included in the Bill to ensure they can identify abuse and safeguard survivors. Read the Victims’ Commissioner statement here.

Two Bill amendments were debated which are fundamental to ensuring universal credit does not endanger survivors. Amendment 10 would place a duty on the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, to investigate making separate payments of universal credit to safeguard survivors from economic abuse. Amendment 69 would relieve survivors from having to repay benefit advancements to protect them for having to wait 5 weeks or more for their first payments. Watch a short video on why these amendments are so important, here.

The House of Lords will be debating amendment 73 to the Bill on Monday 15 March. The amendment would focus on perpetrators, including a national approach to serial domestic abusers and stalkers to ensure they are monitored by the police.

An amendment to the Bill which would make misogyny a hate crime has won cross-party support and will be debated in the House of Lords on Monday 15 March. This would include the abuse and harassment of girls in the street.

International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, Women’s Aid launched a petition to require local authorities to ensure they fund women’s lifesaving domestic abuse services. See comments in full from the chief executive of Women’s Aid here. Women’s Aid also launched a dedicated service for professionals who are working with domestic abuse survivors, looking for refuge accommodation and support.

During a debate in the Commons to mark International Women’s Day, the MP for Birmingham Yardley and Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence, Jess Phillips, read out the names of women who have been killed by men over the last 12 months, watch the video here.

On International Women’s Day, British GQ in partnership with Refuge, reported on why it’s time to #ChoosetoChallenge male attitudes on domestic abuse. “Men are still bonding over misogyny.”

Agency Responsibilities

No further updates. See our previous summary of agency responsibilities here.

Recommendations for the Domestic Abuse Bill

Existing amendments in motion

The Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) is calling on the government to amend the Bill to make coercion a defence for a range of crimes. The CWJ is urging that the change is necessary to “recognise the “devastating impact” that controlling relationships can have and the lack of legal protection for domestic abuse victims who are driven to offend.”

 For more information, see our previous summary of recommendations here.

Key resources and commentaries

How to spot the signs of financial and economic abuse

Domestic abuse is the world’s hidden pandemic- but victims are being left with nowhere to go

End femicide: 278 dead – the hidden scandal of older women killed by men

Domestic abuse after lockdown: controlled, confined and cut off

New laws to protect victims added to Domestic Abuse Bill

‘Epidemic’ of violence against women in UK not taken seriously enough after 33-year-old’s disappearance

Domestic abusers to get GPS tags on release from jail in London

‘We all need to talk about domestic abuse’ Rates spiral during Covid pandemic