Justice for Women
We are a feminist campaigning organisation that supports, and advocates on behalf of, women who have been convicted of murder, when they have killed in circumstances of resisting male violence and abuse.
Established in 1990, we have been involved in a number of significant cases at the Court of Appeal that have resulted in women's original murder convictions being overturned, including Sara Thornton, Emma Humphreys, Kiranjit Ahluwahlia and most recently Stacey Hyde. Despite our earlier cases contributing to changes in the law, including recognition of the cumulative provocation of domestic violence, and despite a reform of the law in 2010, with the defence of ‘loss of control’ replacing that of ‘provocation’, women who have fought back out of fear and desperation, are still being unjustly convicted of the murder of their abusers.
Why is this happening?
· Most criminal lawyers are accustomed to defending violent men and are not experienced in, or lack the understanding, to adequately defend women who have acted out of fear. This can result in crucial evidence being withheld from court such as a history of abuse and mental health assessments.
· There is underlying sex-discrimination in the justice system. Women are up against sexism, stigma and cultural assumptions from judges and juries and the law still does not take proper account of women’s experiences of male violence.
Several of the women that we assist, have appeals approaching. We count on donations to provide the support needed to make the processes as successful and as untraumatic for them as possible. Money donated will be used to visit these women in prison and to cover campaign materials such as holding public meetings and leaflet printing, administration, telephone and website running costs, commissioning reports and mental health assessments to provide a strong defence.
Here are some of the women you will be helping to support:
In 2014 Farieissia’s violent partner, Kyle, attacked her and attempted to strangle her. In order to defend herself and in fear of her life, Farieissia reached for anything to help stop him. Kyle died as a result of a single stab wound to the heart. At the age of just 22, she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 13 years and separated from her two young children. During the trial the full history of serious domestic violence was not explored and no mental health assessment was undertaken despite significant evidence of depression and trauma. These two issues are being explored further with a view to lodging grounds of appeal in the near future.
Sally was convicted the murder of her husband, Richard Challen, in June 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 22 years reduced to 18 on appeal. She was only 15 when she first met Richard and 56 at the time of the offence that took place after years of extreme control and humiliation. He would not allow her to have her own friends and expected her to service him in all ways. He used ‘gas lighting’ a form of psychological manipulation, which leads the victim to doubt her own sanity. In January 2017, she lodged grounds of appeal against conviction relying on fresh evidence of ‘coercive control’, a relatively new concept only introduced into English law in 2015. Additional psychiatric evidence also combines to support the partial defences of diminished responsibility and provocation.
23-year old Emma had recently left a relationship with an abusive man who had hospitalized her when she met and fell in love with James. Over the months they were together James became increasingly controlling, jealous and physically aggressive. In March 2016, after a night out the couple argued and James became violent, kicking and pushing her and finally putting his hands around her throat. In a moment of terror, Emma reached into the sink behind her and lashed out, stabbing him once. At her trial the court were not informed of the history of abuse she had suffered or that which she had witnessed growing up, nor was her mental health fully explored. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 17 years. Emma has a two-year old daughter.
Here is what some of the women we have previously supported have said about us:
‘My wish is that the law will change, and that women who find themselves living with violent men will get the help, support and understanding to be able to get away from these bullies. That is what these men are. I can see that now, but unfortunately it is too late for my family and me now. My biggest gratitude is for the marvellous job Justice for Women do, and the help and support they have given me is second to none. The only down side is that there should never have been a need to set up such a campaign because women should get justice in the first place…’ - Diana Butler
‘I would like to say thank you to Justice for Women, my legal team, friends and family for believing in me and giving me hope and strength to never give up. I will be forever grateful and blessed to have been given my life back.’ - Stacey Hyde
‘The biggest punishment you live with is the knowledge you have taken a life. I have to live with that every day and the feelings of guilt never go away. However I know I am not a murderer. I did not mean to kill Jason, he was attacking me at the time and I was terrified’ - Kirsty Scamp
To find out more about us and the women we support please visit us on www.justiceforwomen.org.uk or follow us on twitter and facebook .