26th March 2022
Valerie’s Law will be debated in Parliament on 28th March following a successful petition calling for obligatory Cultural Competency training to equip police & other services with the knowledge of African and Caribbean heritage women’s experiences of abuse to better protect & support Black victims and survivors.
Launched by the Hackney based domestic abuse service, Sister Space, it is named after Valerie Forde, who was brutally murdered by her ex-partner Roland McKoy in 2014 alongside her 23-month-old daughter. Weeks before the murder, Valerie reported his threats to police, but this was carelessly recorded only as a threat to property rather than a threat to life.
New research looking into 750 cases found that victims whose native language isn’t English have been unfairly detained when seeking police support, because of ‘huge gaps’ in the criminal language support system. The study found that it’s a particular issue for female victims of domestic abuse.
Some victims struggled to recount key details of the crime, while perpetrators who spoke English fluently managed to spread confusion and false accusations.
“As well as enshrining the right to understand and be understood in law in the upcoming Victims Bill, agencies across the criminal justice system need to work hard to upskill their staff and break down language and cultural barriers,” says Diana Sutton, director of The Bell Foundation.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said primary schools need to start implementing lessons which teach pupils about misogyny. He claims young boys need to be taught appropriate and respectful behaviour towards their fellow girl classmates in order to challenge sexist and misogynistic attitudes from the early age.
Mr Khan also called for misogyny to be identified as a hate crime and the sexual harassment of women in a public place as a criminal offence. “The reality is what can often begin as inappropriate attitudes and inappropriate behaviour can lead towards violence against women and girls”, he said.
Your weekly domestic abuse news roundup curated by Ekaterina Balueva ✨
✍🏼✍🏿✍🏾 use this template to ask for your MP to support Valerie’s Law when it’s debated in Parliament next week – just type in your postcode and it will generate a letter for you. Takes 10 seconds.
👀 watch and share the new #HaveAWord video campaign by the Mayor of London
Sources: Sistah Space, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent