The legal system is failing women and needs fundamental reform, a report by the Fawcett Society has claimed.
The charity, which campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights, also found that violence against women and girls is “endemic” in the UK.
The report was conducted by a team of legal experts and Dame Laura Cox, a retired High Court Judge.
Among its finding, it found that one in five women aged over 16 have experienced sexual assault, and in some sexual offences cases a victim’s sexual history evidence is being used inappropriately in court.
The findings follow numerous reports that women who have suffered domestic violence are likely to face their abusive partner in the courts. In some cases, abusive partners were allowed to cross-examine their former spouses.
According to recent figures, there were over one million female victims of domestic violence in England and Wales, and two women a week were killed by a partner, ex-partner or close relative in 2016.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said: “What we see is a deeply misogynistic culture where harassment and abuse are endemic and normalised coupled with a legal system that lets women down because in many cases it doesn’t provide access to justice.”
Dame Laura Cox, Chair of the Review Panel added: “The evidence we received, of increasing levels of violence, abuse and harassment against women, was deeply disturbing. A lack of access to justice for such women has wide-ranging implications not only for the women themselves, but also for society as a whole and for public confidence in our justice system.”
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