Choking partner during sex may be made illegal under new domestic abuse laws

Choking a partner during sex could be made illegal as campaigners push for new domestic abuse laws.

Non-fatal strangulation is currently treated as common assault despite it being used on one in five sex assault victims.

Former victims' commissioner Baroness Newlove will present an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill at the House of Lords on Tuesday.

She wants choking or throttling to be categorised as a specific crime – punishable by more than just six months in prison.

Support groups say abusers are rarely prosecuted for the action because they claim it was part of consensual sex, leaving little sign of physical injury.

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A key message from the campaign is that by treating choking as common assault, it undermines its severity and the terror it causes the victims.

Shockingly, strangulation and suffocation is the most common cause of death for female domestic violence victims, after stabbing.

It made up a third of UK female murders in 2018, compared with 3% of male murders.

Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs and the current Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird support the amendment.

Referring to choking, Dame Vera told The Daily Telegraph: "It is a very frequently used and very effective way of terrifying someone. It is a very frightening tool of coercive control.

"For the same price as a tiny slap, you let her know you are in control but with only the risk of a tiny mark so police never take notice."

Dame Vera and Miss Jacobs said in a joint statement, non-fatal strangulation or asphyxiation was an "utterly terrifying experience".

They added: "Non-fatal strangulation is significantly under-charged across the UK and there is no distinct offence.

"The law is not fit for purpose. A specific offence with appropriate sanctions would make the dangers of non-fatal strangulation — and the appropriate action by law enforcement — crystal clear."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Non-fatal strangulation is a serious crime which is already covered by existing laws such as common assault and attempted murder."

If you have been affected by issues of domestic violence or coercive control you can call Refuge's 24-Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free. The number is 0808 2000 247.

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