The UK Parliament is consulting on the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. We Can’t Consent to This have asked for this Bill to explicitly consider cases where a man claims “consent” in the killing or injury of a woman. You can read our submission below.
We Can’t Consent To This (https://wecantconsenttothis.uk) is a campaign centred on the increasing and increasingly successful use of “consent” as a defence to the serious harm or murder of a woman. The campaign launched in December 2018.
We are writing to provide feedback to the Joint Committee on Human Rights that the draft Domestic Abuse Bill does not consider cases of Domestic Violence where the woman is said to have consented to the violence, as part of sexual activity. We believe that this will leave women who have been injured or killed by men who use this defence badly served by the justice system.
We have so far found 48 UK women who have died where men claim the women were killed in some form of sex “gone wrong”. We are collecting still more cases where women have been injured in the course of what is claimed, by the men charged, to be consensual sexual activity. These women include Natalie Connolly, who died with appalling injuries and whose killer recently received a short sentence for gross negligence manslaughter after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with a murder charge.
We have not yet found any women who have killed others and used a defence of “rough sex”– this seems to be solely a crime of male violence against women and against gay men. The women who’ve died range from women in long term relationships - often abusive - with their killers, to women who’ve just met the men who have killed them.
We think it is likely that an increasing number of men will rely on this defence. Since starting this campaign, we hear frequently from women who have been strangled without consent by men, as part of sex. We hear that men’s expectation that women are strangled during sex comes from pornography. We hear from women whose male partners have raped and violently injured them, where those men make clear to all their friends that the women “love rough sex”, in the expectation this defence will work if they are ever charged.
We believe that the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill will not serve women where men claim the women were killed or injured in sex “gone wrong”. Unless specific provision is made to deal with claims of “consent” to violence or death, we believe we will continue to see that:
Police will accept that women have died through “auto-erotic” or “accidental” asphyxiation in consensual sexual activity and so will not investigate their deaths as suspicious (as happened in the case of the murder of Lesley Potter by her husband Derek, among others).
Coroners will accept that women found dead have died in non-suspicious circumstances despite some evidence that they have been violently assaulted (as happened in the case of Sally White, among others).
The CPS will accept that murder charges are unlikely to be worth pursuing (as happened in the case of Dawn Warburton, among others).
In sentencing, Judges will accept that “sexual activity” that is almost certain to bring lasting harm is consensual, able to be consented to in law, and not intended to cause harm (as happened in the case of Natalie Connolly, among others).