Annalisa Barbieri: We're making it easier for violent men

It may not affect you. But nobody plans to become a victim of abuse

Share

We all know politicians can lie, but it's only when you know a little bit about something that you realise just what honkers they're capable of coming out with. Yesterday, on the Today programme. the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke was discussing the proposed changes to the legal aid scheme of the Legal Aid Bill. Wharra mouthful! Want to zone out? That's exactly what the Government hopes for. According to Ken, this reform "doesn't close anybody's access to justice at all." Instead, it's about [cutting down the] "amount of money we pay to lawyers". Clever that. Everyone has a story about a greedy lawyer, as QC Clarke must know. But Ken is not telling us the whole truth.

The proposed changes to legal aid will hit many vulnerable people hard. Here, I want to concentrate on its impact on victims of domestic violence. Nearly two women every minute are subject to domestic violence. Each week, two women will be killed by a current or former partner. Clare Wood – whose case inspired the controversial "Clare's Law" which will allow women to find out if their partners have a history of violence against women– is an example. She was strangled and set on fire by an abusive ex-boyfriend.

To know that a woman – someone's daughter, mum, sister – is regularly raped, beaten, threatened is heinous enough, but imagine enduring such violence – sometimes daily – in your own home, a place where you're meant to feel safe. You don't need legal aid to pack a suitcase to escape a controlling partner. But you do if you need help to fight him in the courts for, say, child safety orders. With the proposed changes to the law, victims will have to jump through impossible hoops.

If they can't answer yes to questions such as "Is there a non-molestation order in place?" or "Has there been a criminal conviction for domestic violence or child abuse?", there will be no legal aid. There are various other, unrealistic criteria. More than half of the victims currently getting legal aid say they would no longer qualify.

And all of this at a time when their self esteem is at rock bottom and their lives – and maybe that of their children – are being threatened. How very easy it is for a man like Ken Clarke and his colleagues to not understand what this means, and yet how very important it is that they should.

It's easy to think this bill doesn't affect you – but nobody plans to become a domestic violence victim. None of us knows when we may need this legal aid, or when our children might. Domestic violence happens behind closed doors: all other doors should remain open to the victims.

Annalisa Barbieri is patron of Rights of Women.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@AnnalisaB

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower