The Government should support “Eve’s Law”

A fortnight ago, Eve Thomas, a woman who was subjected to over 20 years of abuse at the hands of her partner, made the journey to London to talk to me about "Eve's Law".

Eve's story is a remarkable one. After suffering decades of abuse within her own home, she found the courage to walk away and report the abuse; an action which requires a huge amount of courage for victims of this sort of crime. She did so expecting to be protected from her abuser; he was convicted for battery and subject to a restraining order.

Shortly afterwards, Eve found herself back in court on an unrelated matter and was asked to state her name and "safe" address within an open and public court. When she refused and explained it would compromise both her, and her daughters' safety, she was told by the judge that she would be held in contempt of court.

Eve is leading the campaign to change this legal anomaly and is fighting for the introduction of "Eve's marker" which would "red flag" the personal information of a victim of abuse as confidential and highly sensitive. This would prevent dangerous mistakes from occurring, such as the release of refuge addresses. In essence, it would protect victims of domestic abuse by ensuring that the data would never be disclosed unless exceptional circumstances demand it.

This week, I questioned the victims' minister about "Eve's Law" and was disappointed that he would neither commit to supporting it, nor did he even know anything about this alarming anomaly.

Some might question how many people would be effected by this but Eve, together with David Malone, a leading Human Rights Barrister are leading the charge and have already uncovered numerous cases.

For them, and for me as shadow victims' minister, it is also about much more than the individuals who have already been affected. Domestic violence is a horrific crime; appalling for the damage it causes physically, emotionally, sexually, but also because of the fear it instils often over many years. It is very rare that domestic abuse is a one off occurrence. More often than not physical violence is coupled with a psychological campaign of abuse and sometimes, this occurs without any physical violence at all.

The result is that, on average, a victim will suffer domestic abuse an appalling 35 times before they report it to the police: this is a statistic we should be ashamed of and we should do everything we can to ensure that as soon as domestic abuse occurs, a victim feels able to walk into a police station to report it.

Anomalies like the one identified by Eve Thomas do not just compromise the safety of the individual, they also set back any work the government does to tackle domestic abuse. When a victim leaves their home to report domestic abuse, they must be absolutely sure that they will be protected; whether that's going to a refuge, implementing a restraining order, or ensuring that they, or their children, never again have to live with the fear of their abuser turning up on their doorstep. This legal anomaly puts this at risk.

With the number of domestic abuse cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service falling and a lack of action on implementing "Eve's Law", the government risks turning back the clock.

Eve Thomas has found the courage to fight back and we owe it to her, and other victims of abuse to address what is a small anomaly, but one which will have a huge impact on their lives.

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