Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Mustafa Bashir given no jail time for forcing his wife to drink bleach.

UPDATE: Mustafa Bashir has now been sentenced to 18 months in jail for the crime of lying to the court about his cricket career using a "slip rule" which allows a judge to re-sentence a perpetrator if new information came to light. In this case. forcing a woman to drink bleach is less important than cricket and lying to a judge. This isn't a win for the criminal justice system. It is simply yet another example of a judge believing that perpetrator's careers are more important than the crimes they commit.

 

The headline to this post should say "Mustafa Bashir given 15 (or 20) year sentence for attempted murder". Instead, a man with a history of multiple physical assaults, coercive control, and emotional and psychological abuse was given an 18 month suspended sentence so he could play cricket for Leicestershire - who claim to have never heard of the Bashir.

The reason for a suspended sentence given by Judge Richard Mansell Q: the victim was not vulnerable because she had friends and a university degree.

Many commentators in the media seem rather shocked by Mansell a suspended sentence.

We're not.

The excuses accepted by judges for domestic abuse and violence are as varied as they are dangerous. Judges aren't required to have formal, specialist training in violence against women and girls. They aren't required to read peer-reviewed research into how domestic violence and abuse operates. Judges aren't expected to undertake training in the new laws around coercive control; nor are lawyers. This is one of the many reasons that various areas in England and Wales implemented specialist courts who deal specifically with domestic abuse. Unfortunately, these specialist courts are disappearing with recent 'austerity' cuts. Instead of judges who understand coercive control, we have judges like Mansell who doesn't see forcing a woman to drink bleach as a big deal. We have judges who privilege men's sports careers over the safety of women and children. We have judges that blame rape victims for the actions of a perpetrator because the victim had a glass of wine. 

The problem is not just this one case where a man who uses a cricket bat to assault his wife is given a suspended sentence. The problem is systemic and needs to be overhauled completely.

We need the following immediate changes to the legal system:

  • men charged with domestic and sexual violence and abuse should always be dealt with by Crown courts and not magistrates courts to recognise the severity of the crime
  • Judges, lawyers and other staff, must have specialist training in DSVA
  • Police need specialist training but from external organisations due to systemic failures within the police to treat DSVA as a crime. And, due to their inability to prevent their own officers from being perpetrators. 
  • Juries need specialist training to help them identify myths around DSVA
  • the banning of sexual history of a victim in trials.
  • an immediate investment into specialist service providers to support women through the decision of whether or not to report and, if they choose, support the trial process
  • massive investment in refuges so women have a safe place to go

This should go without saying: Mansell should no longer be allowed act as a judge in cases involving violence against women and children.

We also need:

  • an end to 'austerity' cuts the predominantly harm women and children
  • mandatory specialist sex and healthy relationships education from preschool
  • Specialist courses in journalism and media studies on male violence and DSVA so that journalists receive appropriate training to follow their own guidelines on accurate reporting, as well as an independent media complaints commission where any member of the public can file a formal complaint for misleading or offensive material and not just the victim of media misrepresentation or a member of the National Union of Journalists – if they belong to the organisation
  • All accredited social work programs, including universities, requiring mandatory courses on DSVA which are predicated on a gendered understanding of DSVA

We hope that Attorney General makes the right decision to review the unduly lenient sentence of Mustafa Bahsir, but the entire system needs to change. Not just this one case.

 

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