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CWJ Launch Event - Cardiff

  • Eversheds, 1 Callaghan Square Cardiff, Wales, CF10 5BT United Kingdom (map)

The second of a series events to be held around England and Wales, aimed at bringing together survivors, activists, women’s sector groups, academics and others concerned with violence against women and girls to explore with lawyers how to hold the state to account and challenge discrimination within the criminal justice system. The seminar will consist of a series of presentations from lawyers and litigants who have brought legal challenges and from those on the frontline to describe some of the key challenges they face with the aim of getting everyone thinking more about working collaboratively and about ways to use the law to challenge state failures around violence against women. 


10.30 – 11.00 Registration and coffee

11.00 Morning presentations

Introduction from Harriet Wistrich, founder of the Centre for Women’s Justice and a solicitor of twenty years’ experience working with Birnberg Peirce and Partners in actions against the police and criminal appeals on behalf of women convicted of murdering abusive partners.  Harriet will explain the aims and objectives of the new Centre with a few case studies to illustrate.


Rachel Williams, survivor of domestic abuse and Welsh Women’s Aid’s Children Matter Ambassador. Rachel joined Welsh Women’s Aid as Ambassador in 2011 and works tirelessly to campaign against domestic abuse.

Sarah Ricca – a solicitor and founding partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn, specialising in civil rights and civil liberties and claims arising from abuses by the state.  Sarah will talk about Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales, a Supreme Court case concerning whether the police could be sued in negligence, after failing to prevent the murder of Joanne Michael, having been instructed in a third party intervention. 

Kirsten Heaven, a Welsh barrister, specialising in inquests, police actions and claims against public authorities.  She has an interest in cases involving controversial deaths of women and girls where violence or rape has taken place (often in custody or where the state is supposed to play a protective role) and where there had been an inadequate state response. Kirsten recently acted for the family of Anne Marie Ellement a member of the military police who took her own life after allegedly being raped by a colleague and experiencing rape related bullying within the military.

Gwendolyn Sterk, Public Affairs Manager at Welsh Women’s Aid, UK expert on the European Women’s Lobby Observatory on Violence against Women and trustee of a rape crisis centre. She has previously worked within local government, service development, for Rape Crisis and England and Wales and other violence against women sector organisations. Gwendolyn will discuss the legislative context in Wales and how this relates to the violence against women sector and survivors in Wales. 


Questions and discussion

Lunch (provided)

1.45 Afternoon presentations

‘Rosa’ – is one of eight women who together brought a claim against the Metropolitan police arising from their experiences of being deceived into long term intimate relationships by undercover police officers.  She will talk a little of her experience, of the process of being a litigant and working in a group to bring a novel legal challenge against the state.  She is based in Wales.

Mutale Merrill OBE, Chief executive of Bawso, member of the Older People‘s Commissioner Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, Chair of the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel & Trustee of Abesu.As CEO of the leading BME organisation in Wales, Mutale will discuss the key issues facing BME survivors and violence against women services in Wales.

Jackie Jones, professor of feminist legal studies at University of West of England, Chair of the Wales Assembly of Women, President of European Women Lawyers Association and trustee of two UK women's NGOs. She will discuss her work in helping develop and implement international covenants and treaties aimed at tacking violence against women, including CEDAW, the Istanbul convention

Harriet Wistrich to convene afternoon discussions and explore ways the Centre for Women’s Justice can help tackle some of the systemic issues facing women.