A large proportion of child contact cases in the UK take place within a context of domestic abuse. When placed against evidence of the significant risks to survivors and their children associated with post separation contact, the need for the legal system to make the right decision becomes apparent. Viewing the issue from the perspective of human rights has much to offer but it is clear that this has yet to be fully explored. This is surprising, given the significant developments in human rights law and practice at the regional and international level with regard to domestic abuse. This talk will analyse the results of an exploratory empirical research project undertaken in conjunction with Women’s Aid England with survivors of domestic abuse regarding their experiences of the use of human rights in the family courts. The results of the project will be theorized through the lens of performativity. It will analyse the findings and assess the level of performativity achieved with respect to the domestic recognition of the human rights of survivors within this context and how this compares with regional and international recognition.
Dr Shazia Choudhry is Professor of Law and the Jeffrey Hackney Tutorial Fellow in Law at Wadham College, Oxford. She is also an Associate Academic Fellow and Academic Bencher of the Inner Temple. Her research interests lie in the fields of European and UK human rights law and the interface of those fields with criminal law, family law and human rights law. Areas of interest include the impact of the HRA and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) on the law and policy with regard to violence against women and the effect of rights-based reasoning in the law relating to children. Her work within the field of domestic violence and human rights has been recognised by invitations to speak internationally and by her advisory work and appointments. This has included her appointment as Specialist Adviser to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into Violence against Women (2014-15) and Specialist Adviser to the Joint Committee on the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill (2019), as an expert evaluator for the European Commission, as an expert for the Council of Europe (including participating in the GREVIO monitoring mission to Serbia) and as an expert consultant for the UNFPA. Amongst other advisory work she is a member of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Violence Against Women External Consultation Group and advises Women’s Aid on research, policy and training. Her recent research on the issue of child contact and victims of domestic abuse has been drawn upon by members of the judiciary, members of Parliament, the Victims Commissioner and the Home Affairs (Parliamentary) Committee in its recent report on the proposed Domestic Abuse Bill 2018.
Olive Craig will be the discussant. Olive is Senior Legal Officer (Family and Criminal Law) at Rights of Women. She delivers legal advice to women on the Rights of Women family law advice line. She is highly experienced in delivering training around legal issues affecting women to professionals in the VAWG sector. She is a qualified solicitor and has practiced criminal law and family law. She previously worked in private practice representing a wide range of vulnerable people including victims of domestic violence. Her career has focused on children law, in particular, care proceedings and she was an accredited member of the Law Society’s children panel. Before joining Rights of Women, she briefly worked at a local authority gaining insight into their decision making processes.