Response to yesterday's court ruling

28th March 2017

It's not the role of the judiciary to judge the victim, so why do they keep doing it? 

There is one person who is responsible for domestic abuse and that is the perpetrator. The background or perceived background of the victim should not impact on a court's decision. The law is the law. A crime is a crime.

Just a couple of weeks ago Ministers and senior officials from across Government met to talk about how they could do more to tackle the violence against women and girls which still pervades much of our lives. The discussion ranged from raising public awareness, to attrition rates in reporting and criminal justice. 

Yesterday was a perfect example of why those two things are linked. Why when victims and survivors of abuse hear reports from the courts it directly and explicitly impacts on whether they report offences against them, and whether they see through a prosecution if they do report. Will they be believed? Will they be taken seriously? Will they be judged? 

Well - the judge responsible for prosecuting Mustafa Bashir not only had opinions on his lifestyle but also the lifestyle of the woman whose throat he poured bleach down, Fakhara Karim. Many of us are left bewildered by the outcome in the case. 

Fakhara is apparently too intelligent to be vulnerable. Too intelligent, as though your great command of English or attendance at a Russell group university or stable income is protection against violence. No. Not vulnerable enough, as though being threatened with murder by the person who is supposed to love you doesn't quite tip the scales of justice. No. 

No. There has to be an end, now, to this extraordinary failure of understanding. Mustafa Bashir is reportedly in a new relationship. What message has his new partner received about what will happen if something goes wrong? The same one we all have - that only one type of victim, pure, unsullied and just disadvantaged enough, will be believed and supported. 

Life isn't like that. Abuse isn't like that

We want to express our solidarity with Fakhara - we hope she's receiving the necessary support to rebuild her life after what has happened. 

We know Liz Truss wants to act on domestic abuse, alongside her Cabinet colleagues. We look forward to seeing a robust and determined response to the issues raised by this case.