In the United Kingdom, a new law on domestic violence that criminalises “coercive control” could exclude women with disabilities, who are particularly vulnerable to such abuse, say campaigners.
The new legislation, part of the Serious Crime Bill, will make it illegal for someone to exercise psychological, emotional or financial control over their partner. The law has been welcomed by women’s groups, who have long called for coercive control, which they say is often a prelude to violence, to be a crime.
Male carers in the UK who can prove they are acting in their partners’ interests would escape punishment under ‘coercive control’ legislation.
However, a fresh amendment introduced by the government earlier this month will allow a defence for carers who say they believe they are acting in their partners’ “best interests”. A court would then decide if such behaviour was reasonable.
Women’s Aid fear the changes could exclude women with disabilities, who they say are particularly vulnerable to crimes of domestic abuse.
The defence is unnecessary and too subjective, they say and are calling for safeguards to ensure perpetrators who are carers do not escape justice.
Source: The Guardian 29 Jan 2015