Hampstead mother’s campaign to change law on domestic violence reaches United Nations

Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré - Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

A mother’s campaign to scrap a legal time limit that is robbing countless domestic violence victims of justice has been taken to the United Nations.

Lisa Longstaff from Women Against Rape

Lisa Longstaff from Women Against Rape - Credit: Archant

Kentish Town pressure group Women Against Rape (WAR) has submitted evidence to the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, on how the six-month limit on common assault charges protects many domestic abusers and is harming justice in Britain.

Ms Manjoo has been conducting an official UN inquiry over the past two weeks into Britain’s record on tackling violence against women.

WAR submitted 13 pages of evidence, writing: “The time limit is routinely used by police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute domestic violence attackers.

“This limit should be dropped. We are working with a local woman left disabled after years of domestic violence who is taking legal action on this point. She speaks for thousands.”


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Under the UK’s legal system, prosecutors are unable to charge people with common assault after six months, which means they must have enough evidence to support more serious crimes like grievous bodily harm (GBH) for historic cases of domestic abuse.

WAR is calling for the law to be changed because it often takes longer than six months for victims of domestic violence to report attacks by spouses or partners.

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The organisation has also raised the matter with Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Human Rights in recent weeks.

It is backing a campaign that was started by a Hampstead mother-of-two, in partnership with the Ham&High, who was allegedly assaulted by her ex-husband in the 1980s and ’90s and left disabled.

Doctors believe the 58-year-old was hit so hard in the head in 1994 that she suffered a brain haemorrhage which led to subsequent strokes. She has been plagued by debilitating nerve damage and neurological problems ever since.

WAR recently sent a scathing letter to the CPS accusing it of mishandling the case, after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for GBH charges – and ruled out common assault because it was “time barred” by the six-month limit.

WAR spokesman Lisa Longstaff said: “They are taking a very cold and hard-nosed approach, which is the usual reaction victims get – they are told there is insufficient evidence and they just have to go away and live with it. Even if she can’t take things further, we’re still going to keep campaigning.”

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