Female domestic violence victims 'should not be jailed'

Prisons are not designed for women, who have mainly committed non-violent crimes, and who have often suffered domestic violence or sexual abuse, a group of charities has claimed.

The group of foundations, including the Diana Memorial Fund, the Nationwide Foundation and the Bromley Trust, has said that prisons are ineffective and solicitors should fight for women to avoid prison.

Teresa Elwes from the Bromley Trust said that prisons "were designed for men", adding that they do not serve the best interests of women, for example preventing them from seeing their children.

According to statistics, the most common offence for imprisoned women is theft or handling stolen goods and 63 per cent of prisoners are sent there for under six months.

It has also been found that a third of female prisoners have been sexually abused and 50 per cent have suffered domestic abuse.

Northern Ireland domestic violence charity Women's Aid reports that 29 per cent of murders in the province involved domestic situations.

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