Today, a change in UK law means that an attacker will no longer be able claim a victim consented to violence or their own murder – or the ‘rough sex’ defence. After a final Commons debate last week, the Domestic Abuse Bill and an amendment against the defence received Royal Assent and will become law in days.
The news follows a 16-month campaign led by Harriet Harman MP, Mark Garnier MP and campaign group We Can’t Consent To This (WCCTT) to introduce an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill to get the defence banned. Having joined the campaign in December 2019, Grazia gained assurance from Boris Johnson during his election campaign that it would be a priority for his Government and started a petition with WCCTT that more than 68,000 Grazia readers signed. After a Government review and a new amendment, those efforts, petition signatures and letters to MPs, mean that that position will now become law.
This is not the first time that Grazia has been instrumental in driving ground-breaking campaigns that have helped to change the law around important issues. Just this year, when it appeared that the Government would suspend the reporting of gender pay gaps for the second year running, it relaunched its 2015 Mind The Pay Gap campaign and launched a petition. Within days, the petition reached 10,000 signatures and the Government announced companies would have to publish gender pay statistics by October this year.
Hattie Brett, Grazia Editor said: “Thank you to all our readers for lending your support to our Rough Sex petition and proving that violence against women – no matter what form it takes – must be tackled. Your voices have resulted in a change in the law that will protect women going forward.”
Lauren Holleyoake, Grazia Publisher added: “Grazia has always been on the side of its female audience, celebrating female success, advocating equality and campaigning on their behalf. Our deep knowledge and insight of the things that matter most to her have enabled us to identify these pertinent issues – and crucially drive change around them. By positively impacting their lives beyond just reflecting them in the pages we are able to form a deep connection, based on trust, with readers and advertisers alike.”
WCCTT Founder Fiona Mackenzie said: “This bill will mean so much. Not just on the “rough sex” defence ban, so brilliantly pushed for by Grazia and its readers, but also on a whole range of measures to tackle domestic abuse, including a new offence of non-fatal strangulation, and for threatening to share intimate images. I’ve heard from too many women that violence and abuse in sex and relationships is “normal”, something we’re supposed to accept, and not worth reporting. But law change is only ever the beginning: we need to see the law working, and there is still so much more that Government can do to tackle violence against women. And we mustn’t forget that Northern Ireland are looking at their own “rough sex” defence law change – with the same needed in Scotland too.”
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