Sir: We are horrified by the behaviour of a small group of Conservative backbench MPs regarding the Family Homes and Domestic Violence Bill. This Bill was first drafted by the Law Commission some years ago after research showed the existing system of protection for women experiencing violence does not work.
The Bill was designed to provide consistent and effective protection for children and adults who are being abused by someone in their family; it is not specific to one gender. This is a mild piece of legislation. Objections seem to have been based upon a misinterpretation of the content. The Bill does contain moves to allow cohabiting women temporary access to an order removing a violent abuser in certain circumstances. It does not confer any automatic rights to these women over the long-term occupation of a property or other matters. We do not understand how giving women protection from their abusers, married or otherwise, is undermining the institution of marriage; it is violent men who are undermining marriage.
More than 100 women in England and Wales die each year at the hands of their partner or, more commonly, ex-partner. Leaving a violent man is often not sufficient to remove the threat of violence. The Government has backed down over a piece of legislation designed to give protection to abusers of children as well as adults in the home.
Women's Aid Federation