Women’s Aid empowers survivors to influence the domestic abuse bill through innovative new project
Tuesday 30th April 2019
Women’s Aid has launched an innovative new project to support survivors of domestic abuse to engage with the law and empower them to bring about real change for future survivors as the landmark domestic abuse bill goes through parliament.
The “Law in the Making” project, funded by the Legal Education Foundation, is working with 20 survivors through a series of workshops, engagement sessions with MPs, activities and online discussions. It aims to increase survivors’ understanding of the law-making process and equip them with confidence to use their voices to shape the law so that it serves survivors and their children better.
In January 2019, the government published its draft domestic abuse bill as well as its research into the social and economic cost of domestic abuse. An estimated 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse last year and domestic abuse costs society £66 billion each year.
Adina Claire, Acting Co-Chief Executive at Women’s Aid, said:
“Survivors are often silenced by their abuser and made to feel that they will not be believed if they speak out about their experiences of domestic abuse. This means that for many women they will never speak out to access the protections and provisions they are entitled to by law. We want to change this.
“Our “Law in the Making” project will work with a group of survivors to empower them to make sure that their voices are heard and make sure that the law is working for survivors. By equipping survivors with the skills and the confidence in using the law, our participants will be using the unique opportunity of the domestic abuse bill to engage with and influence legislation in real-time. Only by involving survivors with first-hand knowledge of how the system works, and where it clearly isn’t working, will we be able to truly transform the response to domestic abuse and drive the change in legislation that will make a real difference to the lives of survivors and their children.”
Saliha Rashid, survivor and “Law in the Making” participant, said:
“I’ve always wanted to influence legislation around domestic abuse and disability. The law currently isn’t working for disabled survivors like me and there needs to be urgent change. The “Law in the Making” project is going to help all of the survivors on the project to have a voice. It will equip us with the tools that we need to be able to understand the law and how we can bring about change in it. The project has brought together a group of women from diverse backgrounds who ordinarily wouldn’t be involved in law-making to make sure they get their voices heard when it comes to the introduction of the domestic abuse bill. I hope I will come away with more knowledge of the law-making process that will empower me to bring about the change survivors, especially disabled survivors, need.”
Matthew Smerdon, Chief Executive of The Legal Education Foundation, said:
“Survivors of domestic abuse rely heavily on the law – for many, it forms an essential part of their escape from a violent perpetrator. Yet we know that for many others, the law [is] often not able to protect them. It is therefore vital that survivors’ voices and experiences are at the heart of law reform. As a Foundation committed to helping people understand and use the law, we were interested by the opportunity this Bill provided for legal education in the context of law making. This relates both to the participation of people outside government as well as to parliamentarians and policy makers themselves, where the interaction enables both sides to learn about, and improve, the principles, practices and drafting of law so that it works better for people.”
The project will include training on the law and legislative process as well as unique engagement opportunities with successful campaigners, policy-makers and MPs to help survivors develop a greater understanding of how laws are made and how they can influence this process.
Find out further information about Women’s Aid’s “Law in the Making” project online here: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-influencing/campaign-with-us/law-in-the-making/.
For information or support, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 / [email protected]