Harriet Harman’s campaign to ban the ‘rough sex defence’ gained unanimous support from MPs this week.
Not a single member of parliament disputed amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill at its final vote in the House of Commons.
Although this excuse has been used in court for decades, there is a growing trend for killers to be convicted with manslaughter and lesser charges by arguing their partners had died in ‘sex games gone wrong’.
At least 60 women in the UK, since the 1970s, have been killed by partners who stood in court and claimed their deaths were accidents from violent but consensual sex. Seven killers have successfully used it to receive lighter sentences in the last five years alone. Many more women have reported rapes or attacks but had their cases stymied after perpetrators claimed they were engaging in willing violence.
The issue had been taken up by Harman and Newbury MP Laura Farris. More than 67,000 had signed a petition in support of the campaign. On Monday, Farris gave a moving speech in the chamber: “The most powerful message of new clause 20 is a tacit one about the dignity of the women who have been killed in this way.
“It is not the perpetrator in the dock who gets to define her, or the judge in his sentencing remarks, but we in parliament who draw a line in the sand and say, in effect, what the victims and their families never could: that she could not consent to that.”