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Coalition calls for urgent clarification by EHRC after the body appears to create a gendered ‘victim hierarchy’ of domestic abuse survivors

The request follows briefings by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to Parliament on the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill, in which the EHRC stated the view that the Bill, the statutory definition and subsequent guidance on domestic abuse, should all include “recognition of the disproportionate impact of domestic violence on women and girls within the text of the bill (rather than only in the statutory guidance, as currently proposed).”

However, the Government’s position is different and far more inclusive and equality-based — stating that the definition and guidance should instead be gender neutral – a position that would ensure all individual victims of domestic abuse would be recognised as having equal status in law, the need for the level of support to be based on their individual level of need and that all individual victims would have equal recognition.

‘Victim hierarchy’

In requesting clarification from the EHRC, the Coalition writes that we support the gender-neutral Government position and that:

“…the Commission’s position is not inclusive or equalities-based as the effect will be to create a victim hierarchy, not based on the level of need and risk of each individual victim (and their children, including daughters) but on their gender. This would be discriminatory and any public authority making a decision that placed an individual’s gender as a higher factor than individual need and risk would be in breach of the Equality Act. In addition, the Commission’s position gives a higher status to one group of set of individuals (female victims) with a Protected Characteristic over another (male victims).”

The full letter is available here:

http://www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Men-and-Boys-Coalition-Letter-to-Equality-and-Human-Rights-Commission-20-06-2019.pdf

The EHRC response is available here:

http://www.menandboyscoalition.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/EHRC-response-to-MBC-DV-Bill-letter-20190710-Letter-to-MABC-final-letterhead.pdf