CAMPAIGN GROUPS WELCOME FINDINGS OF JOINT COMMITTEE ON DRAFT DOMESTIC ABUSE BILL

 


14 JUNE 2019

CAMPAIGN GROUPS WELCOME FINDINGS OF JOINT COMMITTEE ON DRAFT DOMESTIC ABUSE BILL

A cross-party parliamentary committee  has today made a clear statement that it is “unacceptable” for women and girls in Northern Ireland to be treated as second class citizens when it comes to domestic abuse - and that the Government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill must cover survivors across the UK. Now it's time that Westminster takes action to end all forms of gender based violence, including lack of access to and criminalization of abortion. Abortion must be decriminalised including in Northern Ireland.

The cross-party committee made up of members of both Houses,  which has been examining the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, has recommended that “the provisions of the draft Bill be extended to Northern Ireland, unless and until Northern Ireland enacts its own legislation in this area”. We welcome this recognition that this Bill is an opportunity to stop the inequality in domestic abuse provisions,which means that women and girls in England, Wales and Scotland are better protected than those in Northern Ireland. As with abortion legislation, women and girls in Northern Ireland have been left behind.

Up until now, the Government has claimed that this Bill would make the UK compliant with the Istanbul Convention - the ‘gold standard’ treaty for combatting violence against women and girls. But the committee has confirmed today that a Bill which protects some but not others falls foul of this. The committee has clearly stated that the Istanbul Convention “requires compliance with its measures throughout the territories of the UK”. Much like abortion legislation, the UK Government has been told that devolution is not an excuse for inaction.

Stormont has not sat for almost two and a half years. It's time now for Westminster to put human rights first and take action to ensure that women and girls in Northern Ireland are treated equally. The Domestic Abuse Bill committee has today been clear that Westminster must act to ensure that women and girls in Northern Ireland are not left behind and without vital protections; so too must Westminster act to bring about much needed change by repealing Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861.

ENDS

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Hannah Little