Baker McKenzie Launches Fighting Domestic Violence Comparative Law Tool

Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie has launched its Fighting Domestic Violence global comparative law tool, a powerful tool that will allow for a rapid analysis of national legislation measured against model domestic violence conventions and between countries. You can watch a recording of the launch event here.

Sponsored by Global Rights for Women and Every Woman Treaty, and together with over 500 volunteers from Baker McKenzie, Google, Merck, 3M, Cummins, HP Inc. and Accenture, Baker McKenzie has been working on an ambitious pro bono project to produce the most comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of domestic violence laws around the world, in 87 countries. The Firm is making that content readily available to all individuals and organizations who can put it to good use in helping the victims of domestic violence.

European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, who gave the keynote speech at the virtual launch event, addressed the need for urgent change, “Violence against women and girls is a pervasive human rights violation. 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.” However, she added that, “Progress is possible and we must continue to work together tirelessly to achieve more.”

Baker McKenzie’s tool is designed to help local, national and international NGOs, and public and governmental authorities, assess the relative effectiveness of applicable laws and to identify where there is room for improvement. To compile the tool, volunteers 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, such as the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention.

Speaking at the launch, Fiona Carlin, Partner and lead sponsor of the project at Baker McKenzie, said, “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.

The next phase of the project will see our teams engage 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.”

Angela Vigil, Partner and Executive Director of Baker McKenzie’s pro bono practice, added, “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. One such group, are the survivors of domestic violence. 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.”