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Mumsnet joins We Can't Consent To This campaign

Mumsnet has signed up to the We Can't Consent To This campaign after overwhelming support from our users. The campaign had a major breakthrough today, when a Justice Minister indicated the government will ban the “rough sex defence” under its new domestic abuse legislation.

By Justine Roberts | Last updated May 27, 2021

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We Can't Consent To This aims to change the law so that men who kill or seriously injure women can't use the defence of 'consensual rough sex gone wrong'. The campaign started on Mumsnet after one of our users, Fiona Mackenzie, was outraged by a case in the news a couple of years ago. In her own words:

“I set up We Can’t Consent To This at the end of 2018, in response to the astonishingly short sentence given to the partner of Natalie Connolly. He was allowed by prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter, and given a three year eight month sentence by the judge, after Natalie died with terrible injuries at their home.

Natalie’s partner claimed her brutal beating and appalling internal injuries were due to “rough sex” that she’d consented to; and this “consent” was accepted by the courrt.

Natalie’s dad Alan since said, “Natalie is no longer here to tell us what he did to her or why he left her where he did. But there is absolutely no way she would have consented to what she was put through.

One thing is for certain – Natalie didn't fantasise about being killed or leaving her daughter without a mum that night. Like so many other women, she didn’t consent to being brutally injured in the name of sex."

Today Alex Chalk MP announced that the government will ban the “rough sex defence” and accepted that it was wrong to allow defendants to suggest that the death of a woman was excusable because she had consented to violent sexual activity.

Alex Chalk stated that it was “unconscionable, and the government are committed to making that crystal clear,” at a meeting of the Public Bill Committee.

Mark Garnier, Harriet Harman, and Laura Farris had previously proposed amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill which has received cross-party support.

How have Mumsnet users responded?

Amberfest “Signed. Long overdue. I can't think of another area of the criminal law where the CPS will not prosecute for what is clearly a criminal offence because hey, it's just women and what the men claim is more important.

You cannot consent to your own violent abuse or death, whether or not in a sexual context. It should not need clarifying but apparently it does. So let's put it beyond all doubt."

namechange0202 “An old friend’s mother is on that list . Thank you for remembering her story flowers . Her (now adult) children and her parents are the most wonderful, gentle, kind souls . I fully, 100% back this campaign.”

DuDuDuLangaLangaBingBong “Fantastic project, Fiona, something you, the FWR board and Mumsnet (as a company and as a phenomenon should be very proud of).”

Read the full discussion thread here.

How to get involved with the campaign

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Mumsnet has run a number of successful campaigns in its 20 year history, including libel law reform, better understanding for families caring for children with disabilities, and better postnatal care.