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Vulnerable women trapped by changes to bail laws

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The Victorian government made amendments to the Bail Act in 2017 and 2018 to tighten the bail system.

The impetus for change was sparked by the revelation that James Gargasoulas had been released on bail only a few days prior to him driving a car through Bourke Street Mall, killing six people and injuring another 30.

However, it comes as no surprise to see that those caught in the net of the new legislation are not necessarily violent men, but rather a group of highly vulnerable women. We have seen this before.

Christina, a former prisoner, used drugs and experienced violence and repeated trauma.Credit:Jason South

The 2005 Victorian legislation on defensive homicide was designed to provide a halfway option between murder and complete acquittal to juries and women living with intimate partner violence who killed their partners in self-defence.

The legislation was introduced as a way to counter injustice for women who were terrified for their lives following often chronic abuse, who were being convicted of murder.

In fact, a review of the legislation after five years showed that 25 men were sentenced under the defensive homicide legislation, primarily for attacks on other men. Men also used the legislation to attain lower-level convictions after killing their intimate partners.

The use of the legislation by Luke Middendorp for fatally stabbing his partner, Jade Bownds, in the back in this context was seen by many as a travesty and a distortion of the law.

Under the........

© The Sydney Morning Herald