On International Women’s Day, it seems fitting to acknowledge the contributions of leading feminist criminal defence barrister Marguerite Russell. In this piece, she describes the issues she’s campaigned on passionately throughout her career.
"As one of the six founder members of Garden Court, I was involved in setting up the Women's Aid Refuges System for battered women, and gave evidence to the parliamentary select committee that led to the police being able to enforce domestic violence injunctions.
I was also involved in helping the first Rape Crisis Centre, and setting up the Rights of Women organisation. I took part in defeating the last major anti-abortion bill and addressed meetings all over the country.
When Chambers began, I was centrally involved in trying to establish and ensure there was a gender balance in Chambers and was one of the first women ever to wear trousers in Court, challenging the Bar Dress Code for women that was in place at the time.
I wrote articles in Spare Rib, the first feminist magazine, and I was an out feminist and lesbian long before that became an ‘OK’ thing to be. I have written academic papers across a number of topics, including ‘A feminist analysis of the criminal trial process' (Canadian Journal of Women and Law) and have presented other papers at numerous conferences in the UK, the US and Canada on various topics of importance to women, such as rape law, domestic violence, trafficking and prostitution."
At Garden Court Chambers, we are celebrating International Women’s Day with a series of events featuring lawyers, activists and academics all striving for gender equality. Marguerite will be speaking at our event on 10 March: Women in Law, Overcoming Barriers.