Baroness Cathy Ashton, the British Law Minister: “…in UK 25 per cent of all reported serious crime is around domestic violence …”!!!
the “domestic violence” Industry may
soon become global
>>>> From Tthe Hindu – Business Line >>>>
Laws of opportunity
Britain’s Law Minister makes a strong case for Indo-UK tie-ups for legal services.
She was in India last week mainly to talk to advocates and the judiciary about the opportunities that British law firms can offer India, if allowed to open shop here. “In a global economy India is poised in the next few years to become an even more important economic force, and we share the same language, the same legal system,” says Baroness Cathy Ashton, the British Law Minister whose ministerial responsibilities include administrative justice, human rights, international legal trade and information rights.
While there are nine Indian legal firms operating in the UK, British firms are not yet allowed to operate in India. She sees synergy between the two nations that can help their legal professionals to “compete against the rest of the world for international contracts. Our legal firms will bring back to India contracts and commercial activities that are currently going on in London that should be going on here.”
She says such a legal partnership would provide job opportunities for Indian advocates, and makes it clear that “we don’t want to practise in your courts”. A champion of both gender and human rights, the Baroness was impressed with the women she met in the legal profession and law schools. “They were highly skilled and incredible; in the mock trials the students presented the women stood out; my goodness, I’d hire them any time to represent me!”
A passionate advocate against forced marriages, the Baroness is engaged in pushing through legislation in the House of Lords to make forced marriages that much more difficult. She tries to convince people of all faiths and communities that this issue is related to women’s empowerment and fundamental human rights, and says such dialogues have resulted in more people seeking help and support through phone calls. While forced marriages are mainly found in Asian communities, “we hear that there are examples in the Romany or gypsy community too, as also from Somalia and other countries. But I suspect that much of this is hidden. I explain all the time that we’re not talking about arranged marriages; this is about the girls — there are some boys too — having no choice.”
The Minister says domestic violence in Britain is causing concern; 25 per cent of all reported serious crime is around domestic violence. “But the good news is that the rates are falling”. Apart from working with the victims to assure them that they are not alone, specialist domestic violence courts have been set up in the UK. “So the perpetrators are under no illusion when they walk into that court; the folder says `DV’ in big letters, so they can’t pretend it’s something else.”
In the UK each week a woman dies due to domestic violence, but the campaign against it is getting results. “It has become more unacceptable and victims are not prepared to put up with it and the community is beginning to get involved too. We have a big part of the family law devoted to domestic violence… and it’s not just about physical brutality, but also psychological damage, coercion, and so on. But we have to do more,” she says.
On human rights and the much greater trauma of women in conflict zones or during crackdown on suspected terrorists, the Baroness says that while it is one of the greatest tragedies that women and children suffer much more in such cases, “we have to remember that women also are critical peacemakers and sometimes we forget the value of involving women.”
She gives the example of Northern Ireland, “an area of great conflict, where the women first began, in their own local communities, to deal with the issues and problems and came together in a coalition. So the hope for women is that they are allowed to participate in finding solutions for conflict.”
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