Editorials

Domestic violence against women

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7011.964 (Published 14 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:964
  1. Jo Richardson,
  2. Gene Feder
  1. Research fellow Senior Lecturer Joint Academic Department of General Practice and Primary Care, The Medical Colleges of St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospitals, London EC1M 6BQ

    Needs action from doctors and the health service

    Two abused women were recently freed from prison in Britain. Emma Humphreys and Sara Thornton had previously been found guilty of murdering violent partners and had received mandatory life sentences. Humphreys's conviction was quashed by judges in the Court of Appeal, whose ruling recognised the months of cruelty she had experienced from her boyfriend, including beatings and rapes. Thornton's case is pending appeal. In future cases cumulative abuse will be seen as possible provocation, allowing a charge of manslaughter rather than murder.

    The violence that both of these women suffered is common. Mooney found that 27% of women surveyed in north London had experienced physical injury from their partners or former partners, while 37% had experienced mental cruelty and 23% had been raped.1 In the 1992 British crime survey, 11% of women who had lived with a partner reported physical violence against them in their relationship.2 The continuing and repeated nature of domestic violence is also well established. Eight per cent of women in the north London survey had been injured during the …

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