Here’s How A Women’s Magazine Might Be Saving Lives
Five years on from the closure of the News of the World, its legacy is chiefly of widespread phone-hacking. The anniversary - on 10th July - of its final day was not commemorated, the paper consigned to history.
However, though thousands were negatively affected by what soon became known as the hacking scandal, many people have also been affected - positively - by Clare’s Law, which was campaigned for by Fabulous magazine - the News of the World’s little sister magazine, which came free with the paper each Sunday. And it’s important to remember what this law, and the campaign for it, means.
MAKERS spoke to Joely Carey, the then-editorial director of Fabulous magazine, who launched the Right to Know campaign, also known as Clare’s Law.
“When I launched the initial campaign to allow women to have the Right to Know if their partner had a history of domestic violence – it was with one clear aim: to enable women to make better informed choices about their relationship.
"So many cases of domestic violence never ever make it to court. So many violent men go on to abuse women over and over again without ever being prosecuted. In many cases police forces would know a man had previous convictions but were powerless to tell a new partner.
"One in four women experience domestic violence in their lives and two women a week are killed at the hands of their partner or someone they know. On average, manipulation and threats create such a level of fear that a woman is assaulted on average 35 times before she reports any incident to the police.
"This seemed like a campaign that simply had to be made law because it would save lives.
"Many conversations were had, a petition was run in Fabulous to pledge support for the law change. This was followed by meetings with the Association of Chief Police Officers, women’s domestic violence charities, men’s rights groups and the Home Office. Most agreed it was a campaign of note and wheels were put in motion to fund pilot schemes to trial its efficacy.
"A pivotal moment came after an inquest into the death of a young mother Clare Wood – she was murdered by her ex-partner, a man who trawled social media sites searching for vulnerable women, a man with a history of violence against women – a fact Clare never knew.
"The Right to Know campaign joined forces with Clare’s father and became Clare’s Law. The scheme was trailed in a handful of areas and the results were so encouraging the scheme became the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) and became law in 2014.
"Today, if a woman, or a third party involved with a vulnerable woman has concerns over a partner’s behaviour, they can apply for a police checks to make made via the DVDS scheme and then supported in their decision to stay or go.
"I firmly believed, as I do now, that knowledge is power. Empowering women to make the right choices about their relationship safety is absolutely the right thing for society to do – as is supporting those women to be able to lead safe lives once they leave their abusive partners.
"In an age where relationships are increasing formed online, the truth about anyone’s character can be hard to ascertain. Online profiles are perfect to allow people to airbrush their pasts – this law enables women to cut through the fiction if they feel they may be at risk.”
As of March 2016, 1,900 disclosures of domestic violence had been made through the DVDS scheme in England and Wales. Launched in Scotland in 2015, the DVDS scheme there has made 443 disclosures of domestic violence to women in its first year of operation.
Tabloid newspapers can have bad reputations, for some good reasons. But when it comes to high-profile campaigns that induce policies to save women’s lives, it’s worth remembering their efforts.
Photo Credit: Press Association