This week the Guardian reported that non-fatal strangulation is to carry a five year prison sentence as an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill. This news comes after Jenny and Natalie have both worked hard to propose and support improvements to the Bill.
The Domestic Abuse Bill was the one positive Bill in this awful Parliamentary session, but it still needed a few friendly amendments to make it a perfect Bill. Over 190 amendments were tabled at Committee Stage in the House of Lords, covering areas like police training, revenge porn, the links with drug abuse and the inclusion of statutory duties. Perhaps the key set of amendments was the creation of a specific crime of non-lethal strangulation in recognition of how this is employed in numerous relationships as a means of control.
This is about ethics, morality, having a clear conscience and making sure that we behave as a democracy should, by abhorring genocide and people being murdered, tortured and imprisoned. This is about operating as an enlightened nation and when we talk about genocide, we ought to talk as well about ecocide—large-scale environmental destruction and ecological damage. Although it is not as obvious, it is a slow genocide. It drives people away from their land, makes them poor and gives them fewer opportunities and terrible lives. We should accept that we do that sort of damage, and that we do it in virtually every act of our lives. In some way, we impact on our environment and the rest of the world and, by doing that, we can damage the health and well-being of other nations and people who live in the places where we get our food or the minerals for our phones. So we ought to think very carefully about how we operate as individuals and as a nation.
On the wider aspects of the Bill, it is, of course, utterly unfair. I can see why it is being brought in, but why is it not for all women? It is absolutely appalling that this is only for a tiny section of very privileged, elite women. It should be for all women.We do not have equality in Britain, we are meant to be a foremost democracy in the world and we do not have equality for 50% of our population.
I thought I would share this email from Lord Berkeley who served as Chairman of the Rail Freight Group, the industry representative body for the rail freight sector, and is elected as a board member of the European Rail Freight Association. I don’t agree with all the detail, but it shows that there is a cheaper, viable alternative to the environmentally damaging HS2. Interesting snippet: “NIC Chair Sir John Armitt said at the All-party Rail Group meeting on 26 January 2021, ‘you can have the rest of HS2 or you can have regional rail improvement but I cannot see ministers agreeing to both’! ”
Misogyny and sexism are deeply embedded in our society, we have enshrined our condemnation of racism and homophobia in law, but we are not treating sexism as the same kind of priority and it is time that we did. Domestic abuse training for the police is part of what will help them to takemisogynistic crime seriously. We also need to better protect the survivors of domestic abuse through granting them anonymity in court.
The government has rejected the most basic attempts by the Lords to amend the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill. Conservative MPs rejected judicial oversight and they rejected an attempt to rule out rape, murder and torture from the list of crimes that could be authorised. This will give over 500 senior police officers and numerous other organisations the ability to break any law when they (not a judge) deem it reasonable and proportionate to do so.
The House of Lords has once again stood firm as a voice of morality and reason as this government seeks to reject any imposition of minimum standards when making trade deals. The Lords has become a major source of opposition to this government as Conservative and independent peers regularly find themselves at odds with the right wing cabal that operates from Downing Street.