Judges Attack (Women’s Voice, 1977)

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Since fewer people are marrying and more living together permanently the 1966 Domestic Violence Act extended protection to the unmarried woman living with a man as husband and wife in the same household.

LAST month three Lord Justices decided in their anti-feminist bigotry o drive a coach and horses through the recent legal gains won for battered women.

The case concerned an unmarried woman who was battered by the man she has lived with for ten years, the father of her two children. They are joint tenants of their council house. A County Court ordered him to vacate their council house and stop molesting her, in line with the new Domestic Violence Act.

But the man appealed against the court decision, won the appeal, so that now the woman and kids have nowhere to live, except with him!

How the hell is it possible that women’s legal rights are so blatantly ripped up before the ink has barely dried on the statute book?

In Women’s Voice (August issue) we warned that precisely because this legislation was an important gain for women, the Judges would try and over-rule some sections of the Act.

The explanation of the judges is a technical one. This new legislation which recognises the rights of the unmarried ‘wife’ clashes with existing matrimonial law (relating to properly married people) and their Lordships decided that elaborate legislative code couldn’t be undermined.

The battle for battered women’s rights on paper was won… but the war goes on.

Nina Gosling

Women’s Voice 11, November 1977

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