LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - People who abuse partners or family members could be ordered to wear tracking devices and forced to attend addiction recovery programs as part of a proposed bill to better protect victims of domestic abuse, the British government said on Thursday.
Nearly 2 million people in Britain each year, most of them women, are physically or emotionally abused by their partner or a relative, it said.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the government said it was inviting charities, support workers, survivors and the general public to consult on its draft Domestic Abuse Bill to “ensure we get this landmark legislation right”.
“While we have made great strides toward equality and opportunities for women, the fact there are still thousands of people suffering from domestic abuse shows how much work we still have to do,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
The bill proposes tough new approaches such as allowing courts to enforce compulsory alcohol treatment, or forcing abusers to wear electronic monitoring devices to keep victims from suffering further harm.
The government also proposed appointing a dedicated commissioner to scrutinize its actions on domestic abuse.
Charities welcomed the move to boost domestic violence laws.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a step-change in how we deal with domestic abuse,” said Jo Todd, chief executive of Respect.
Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives, said it was time for “radical change” to end domestic violence.
“We are ambitious for women and girls - we want every single one to be able to live safely at home and in their own relationships,” she said.
Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Robert Carmichael; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories