Common sense and justice have prevailed in a recent court case that is a sign for better human rights regarding domestic abuse. The ‘same-roof rule,’ which denied compensation to domestic abuse victims who lived in the same house as their attacker before 1979 has finally been reversed in a recent court case. The victim, who is referred to as JT for legal reasons, was abused repeatedly in eight separate incidents that include rape and sexual assault. Astonishingly, since these incidents took place before 1979 JT was unable to receive compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
What has made this case even more shocking is another victim of the same perpetrator was able to receive compensation from the CICA because these violations took place at a different address.
Judges at the court have showed their support for JT, with Lord Justice Leggatt providing his analysis of the current system by saying that it was ‘arbitrary and unfair.’
From the very beginning of the case, JT was fighting an uphill battle since she was initially refused compensation when she applied to the CICA because of the ‘same-house rule.’
Although it may be hard to believe, the reason behind the ‘same-house rule’ was to prevent abusers from benefitting from compensation being paid to victims that they lived with, hoping that any future domestic abuse cases weren’t financially motivated.
Despite new laws being introduced in 1979 to allow any future victims the right to claim compensation for domestic abuse, the change did not apply retrospectively.
In the modern era, through one means or another, we are regularly reminded that money is prioritised over people’s lives. Unfortunately, this applies to the same case. Although reforms were introduced in 2012, the same-roof rule was maintained because people were afraid that the number of applicants trying to make claims would significantly rise if it had been abolished.
Other organisations voiced their opinions on the matter, including The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, who recommended in their interim report that the rule should be abolished. As what can be viewed as a stance against human rights, lawyers representing the CICA defended the Government’s decision not to make victims of domestic abuse before 1979 eligible for compensation as ‘justified.’
After five long years fighting for justice, JT eventually won the case, representing a moral victory for domestic abuse victims. The result of her case was publicly applauded by the children’s charity Barnardo’s, human rights campaigning group Liberty and the charity Victim Support. A joint statement from the philanthropic agencies revealed that an astonishing 180 victims were denied compensation support.
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