Women are calling the domestic abuse bill a sticking plaster at best – they’re not wrong

Three years after it was promised, the legislation still falls short of the measures that could be the difference between life and death for many, writes Harriet Hall

Many groups have reiterated that the bill still lacks promise of equal protection against migrant women
Many groups have reiterated that the bill still lacks promise of equal protection against migrant women

On the eve of her 22nd birthday on 1 December 2018, Grace Millane met up with a 27-year-old man on Tinder in Auckland, New Zealand, where she was travelling on her gap year. A week later, her body was found stuffed inside a suitcase in the mountainous Waitakere Ranges. The killer had strangled her to death during sex.

The murderer invoked the “rough sex defence”, also known as the 50 Shades defence, claiming that Millane had died accidentally during consensual intercourse. An ex-boyfriend took the stand to attest to Millane’s predilection for BDSM, and the murdered young woman’s sexual history made headlines across the globe. The killer had taken photographs of her corpse.

Today, the domestic abuse bill – that was last year delayed during the prorogation of parliament – is finally being tabled three years after it was first promised. As part of this, ministers will look at what more can be done to put an end to the “rough sex” defence, which campaign group We Can’t Consent to This says has increased tenfold over the past 20 years.

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