The British government has unveiled plans to overhaul laws relating to domestic violence.
Women who kill abusive partners could escape a life sentence if they were responding to a “fear of serious violence”, while men would no longer be able to claim “provocation” from sexual jealousy or nagging, as a defence.
It follows a series of cases where abusive men were perceived to have been given relatively light sentences and woman who killed violent partners were given life terms.
Minister for Women, Harriet Harman said: “It’s still the case that some women are trapped by fear and they feel they have to stay with their husband because if they leave he would come after them and it would be even worse for them. So, although big progress has been made there is still a long way to go and we think the idea of a man beating his wife is simply not acceptable in the 21st century”.
In one of the landmark cases of recent years Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s murder conviction was changed to manslaughter on the grounds that she had not been able to avail of the appropriate defence.
It was made into a film that raised awareness of problems in the law on domestic violence.
The government’s proposals, which are part of a wider review of murder laws, are expected to go before parliament in the autumn.