WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
December 07 2021
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO

Successful challenge to mixed-gender housing policy for women fleeing abuse

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Successful challenge to mixed-gender housing policy for women fleeing abuse

Image Courtesty of European Parliment via Flickr Creative Commons
Image Courtesty of European Parliment via Flickr Creative Commons

A council’s policy of placing vulnerable women in mixed-gender accommodation has been successfully challenged. The case was brought by a woman who had a history of domestic violence and trauma. Upon becoming homeless, she contacted the Camden Council, who accommodated her in a mixed-gender hostel. Relying on evidence from medical practitioners and various organisations, it was argued that this form of accommodation would be detrimental for any survivor of gender-based violence, due to the risk of triggering trauma.

The case settled before trial, with Camden Council agreeing to pay compensation. The council also agreed to review its procedures in relation to its emergency homeless accommodation provision. This commitment to review included an agreement to hear representations from the interested parties about the provision. The Public Interest Legal Centre (PILC), who represented the woman, made three recommendations in order for the Council to ensure that it complied with the Equality Act.

First, they recommended the development of a questionnaire to determine whether homeless applicants have a history of gender-based violence and require single-sex accommodation. Secondly, if an applicant confirmed such a history, then the council must presume that mixed accommodation would  be unsuitable; and thirdly, the council should develop facilities in anticipation of the need for single-sex accommodation. Camden Council have indicated that they will consider each of these recommendations.

This outcome may have a considerable impact for housing policy across the United Kingdom. Helen Mowatt, a Solicitor at PILC noted that ‘accommodating homeless women fleeing abuse with men is an issue across the majority of boroughs in the country’. Olivia Anness, a solicitor at Bhatt Murphy, said: ‘For too long homeless women fleeing domestic abuse have been placed in unsuitable mixed-sex accommodation by their local authorities. This case has highlighted the devastating impact that this practice has on a survivor’s ability to recover. It’s time for all local authorities to review their practice and ensure that women fleeing abuse have access to single-sex accommodation when they need it most.’

The Government has committed to some reform through the pending Domestic Abuse Bill, which will grant homeless victims of domestic abuse ‘priority need’ for homelessness assistance. However, the scope of single-sex accommodation remains unclarified. Lucy Hadley, head of policy and campaigns at Women’s Aid Federation of England, called for ‘the government guidance to clarify that all homeless women escaping domestic abuse should be routinely offered women-only accommodation for their safety’, to avoid ‘devastating impacts on women escaping from trauma and abuse’.

4 responses to “Successful challenge to mixed-gender housing policy for women fleeing abuse”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Camden like so many London boroughs have been failing to assess or risk assess needs of vulnerable women for years .Any advice agency can tell you. Any vulnerable woman who has ever asked for safety can tell you. This judgment has to be extended to all women who have experienced gender based violence including the very high % of those with MH conditions with a sexual abuse history. Local authorities have a very poor record on safeguarding in this area in MH so question is how do you change the culture and practice of homelessness teams so entrenched in failing victims of violence.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is such an important case. In addition, The Equality Act protected characteristic is ‘sex’, not gender. Correct language is so important. A person’s ‘gender identification’ is irrelevant when it comes to protecting women’s rights, under the Equality Act 2010, to single SEX services.The law has been undermined by the trans lobby group Stonewall, which wishes to replace ‘sex’ with ‘gender identity’ in the Equality Act and has been unlawfully advising its 850 Stonewall Champions (including several London Boroughs, and providers of accommodation for domestic violence victims and homeless people) that is is discriminatory to exclude males from female services. In so doing it has enabled male-bodied males who identify as women access to vulnerable females – in hostels, domestic violence units and women’s prisons. Assaults and harassment have and will continue to happen while this safeguarding loohole is open to exploitation. See Fairplay for Women for information. Readers may be interested to know that two female prisoners, sexually assaulted in prison, recently brought a case against the Ministry of Justice for its policy of automatically housing male-bodied people, with a GRC, in female prisons. The case is awaiting judgment See Keep Prisons Single Sex for more information.

  3. Bluecat says:

    SEX-based oppression & abuse. Not “gender”.

    Sex is a reality: please name it.

  4. Delia Morris says:

    I would like to thank that woman.. she has exposed the detrimental way women are being treated when they seek protection form abuse.

Related Posts