Baker McKenzie joins domestic violence fight with new legal tool

The tool examines DV laws, law enforcement practices and social protection measures

Baker McKenzie joins domestic violence fight with new legal tool

Baker McKenzie has joined the fight against domestic violence with a new comparative law tool.

The Fighting Domestic Violence global comparative law tool facilitates “rapid analysis of national legislation measured against model domestic violence conventions and between countries,” the firm explained. The tool was developed with the help of volunteers who “mapped local laws on domestic violence, and assessed law enforcement practices and related social protection and security measures with the aim of identifying any gaps between the status quo and the standards set in international and regional frameworks.”

The tool is geared towards providing guidance to both local and international NGOs, as well as authorities from the public sector and governments. The ambitious pro bono project has what Baker McKenzie described as “the most comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of domestic violence laws around the world,” which the firm has made available to those who can make a difference for domestic violence victims.

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“The issue of domestic violence is frighteningly prevalent in our society, and we wanted to help to stop the scourge. What was initially planned to be a modest project in parts of EMEA quickly evolved into a project covering over 85 countries, thanks to the tremendous response from our people and our clients. So many people gave up a substantial amount of their time because they knew this was an important cause and were committed to making a difference,” said partner Fiona Carlin, who is the lead sponsor on the project, at the virtual launch event.

Partner and pro bono practice executive director Angela Vigil added that domestic violence incidents have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For many women, girls and others, the threat looms largest where they should feel safest – in their own homes and their intimate relationships. As femicide and related statistics show, their plight has worsened during the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Ultimately, the people who fight for this issue have been outnumbered and under resourced. By lending our support and working together we can help some of the most vulnerable people in the world at a time when they need it most,” she explained.

European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli emphasised the need for urgent action, given the statistics on violence against women in Europe.

“One woman in three aged 15 or above reported having experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence. One in 10 women reported having been victim to some form of sexual violence, and one in 20 had been raped. Just over one in five women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence from either a current or previous partner, whilst 43% of women have experienced some form of psychologically abusive and/or controlling behavior when in a relationship,” she said in her keynote speech at the event.

Nonetheless, Dalli pointed out that “progress is possible and we must continue to work together tirelessly to achieve more.”

Carlin said that in the next phase of the project, Baker McKenzie will work together with domestic violence specialists “on the ground to better understand their needs and to ensure that the content that we make available is in a format that is as useful as possible in their daily work.”

“By working together, we can bring about meaningful change,” she said.

Global Rights for Women and Every Woman Treaty sponsored the project. Baker McKenzie collaborated with over 500 volunteers from the firm, Google, Merck, 3M, Cummins, HP and Accenture.

“Our pro bono work is a core pillar of Baker McKenzie’s commitment to service as global citizens and to our sustainability strategy. We are proud to collaborate with our clients on pro bono projects around the world that aim to protect and realize the rights of the most vulnerable in our societies,” Vigil said.


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