Statement – Reform Family Courts to Tackle Violence Against Women – Rights of Women

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Most women experiencing domestic abuse do not report it to the police but seek protection from the family courts or are taken to court by abusers seeking contact with their children.

Olive Craig, Senior Family Lawyer at Rights of Women, said:

“The Family Court should protect women and children from domestic abuse, not cause them further harm. However, we speak to countless women who are let down by the court, whose minimisation of harm and pro-contact culture place victims of domestic abuse and their children at risk of further abuse.

“Most women experiencing domestic abuse do not report to the police but seek protection from the Family Court or are taken to court by abusers seeking contact with their children. Policies aimed at reducing violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, must include reform of the Family Court.”

Victims of domestic abuse and their children at risk of harm through unsafe contact

The Harm Report (published by the Ministry of Justice in 2020) concluded that the Family Court was making orders that place victims of domestic abuse and their children at risk of harm through unsafe contact. The report should have been a wake-up call and the next Government must stop the system re-traumatising and further abusing women and children.

The basic and immediately actionable solutions in the report should already be the norm, the lack of progress in the implementation of these solutions in full is a betrayal of thousands of adult and child victims of abuse.

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