Media Release – Call for standalone strangulation, choking and suffocation crime

Women’s Legal Service Tasmania today called on the State Attorney-General, Elise Archer, to introduce an indictable offence of strangulation, choking and suffocating. This supports Coroner McTaggart’s call for the Tasmanian Government to consider a change to the legislation to create indicatable offences for these acts.

Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Legal Service Tasmania, Yvette Cehtel, said:

“The need for the intention and the act to coincide makes it hard to get a conviction for attempted murder or grievous bodily harm in their own right as standalone crimes. At the moment you can’t be charged with strangulation, choking or suffocation. It has to be proved that you intended to do something else.

We know that strangling, choking and suffocating are in themselves serious acts of control.

We know that strangulation is a red flag for future harm.

We know that strangulation is a key predictor of homicide.

We know that strangulation causes serious health impact to vision, vocal chords, breathing and hearing, and can cause memory loss and miscarriage.

We know it is a method of violence often preferred by men as there is no obvious physical injury to the woman – so they think they can get away with it”.

The Tasmanian Government needs to send a strong message that this act will not be tolerated in our communities.

“How many more women need to die before the law in Tasmania is reformed?  New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT all have strangulation crimes – the Victorian Government has recently committed to reforming the law, and Western Australia is considering a change. Tasmania is lagging behind – law reform is urgently required”.

The Tasmanian State Government must act to ensure women in Tasmania receive the same legal protection women in other states receive.

The present position is not acceptable.

Parliament must support our police and judicial officers by providing them with the tools they need to do their job. We need a stand-alone strangulation, choking and suffocating crime to be added to our law in Tasmania.