NEWBURY MP Laura Farris spoke out against domestic abuse and highlighted the problem of the ‘rough sex’ defence, in a speech in parliament. 

The rough sex defence is when a domestic abuser injures a victim, but then defends their actions by saying the victim consented to the injuries during intercourse. 

Most recently the man who murdered Grace Killane, the British backpacker in New Zealand, used the defence in the trial for her murder. A cross-party group of MPs, including Ms Farris, is trying to tackle this problem by changing the law, so the defence can no longer be used.

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Ms Farris said: “Under the current law, the defendant may well establish consent even if the victim does not live to tell the tale.

“The Natalie Connolly story is a case in point. I cannot imagine how hard it was for her family to hear how John Broadhurst inflicted more than 75 injuries on Natalie, sprayed bleach in her face and then left her to die.

“And yet, he [Broadhurst] established in court that some of the most extreme and violent injuries were done with her consent.”

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Ms Farris was speaking in support of a cross-party amendment, during the second reading of the domestic abuse bill on April 28. 

At least 67 people in the UK have been killed in claimed sex “gone wrong”, with more injured, according to campaigners We Can’t Consent to This. All the suspects were male, and 60 of those killed were female. 

Ms Farris said: “What is really extreme violence against women, is given a veneer of complicity because of the sexual element.

“The lurid details are made public. But if the victim had lived, and the case had proceeded as one of sexual assault – she would have been entitled to anonymity.

“The perpetrator receives a derisory sentence for manslaughter.” 

The domestic abuse bill is a landmark piece of legislation, but has been delayed because of Brexit, the general election and the coronavirus. If the bill is made law, local councils would have to provide refuges for victims of domestic abuse. 

Ms Farris added: “This landmark legislation offers an opportunity for the government to show cultural leadership. And I hope it will look to the horizon, and build in the statutory protections which will keep women in relationships safe for the future.”