Sister in Law

Sister in Law

Fighting for Justice in a System Designed by Men


Brought to you by Penguin.

Only 30 years ago, rape within marriage was not a crime, Judges saw rape victims as complicit for wearing short skirts; teenage runaways were groomed, pimped and then arrested as ‘common prostitutes’, and harassment, stalking, forced marriage and honour-based violence were not defined or recognised as separate offences in law. Since then there have been important legislative reforms but the law is only as good as those who enforce it.

Telling the stories of a series of ground-breaking cases, Harriet Wistrich illustrates how far misogyny is baked into our justice system. Among the women she has represented are Emma Humphreys and Sally Challen, both of whose murder convictions were overturned in watershed moments, the victims of serial rapist, taxi-driver John Worboys, and the wives and girlfriends of undercover police who were fraudulently deceived into long-term relationships and illegally spied upon.

Her work has involved direct challenges to government departments and cabinet ministers, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the immigration service, and the Parole Board. It provides critical insight into the many ways issues relating to violence against women intersect with racism, state violence and lack of accountability. And it shows how bringing a feminist lens to legal issues has led to creative solutions and inspiring partnerships.

This important work demands tenacity, compassion and collaboration, but Wistrich shows that it is imperative that we demand better justice and that it is possible to bring about important change.

©2024 Harriet Wistrich (P)2024 Penguin Audio


  • Harriet Wistrich has long offered a voice to the voiceless – those ordinary men, and especially women, who have been silenced, ignored, overlooked and talked down to. Her career is a testimony to her values, dedication, hard work and insight and as I read Sister in Law I realised that if I was ever in trouble I would want Harriet fighting in my corner.
    Emeritus Professor David Wilson

About the author

Harriet Wistrich

Harriet Wistrich is the founder and director of the Centre for Women's Justice and a solicitor of over 25 years' experience. She has worked for many years with civil liberties firm Birnberg Peirce, acting in many high-profile cases around violence against women, including on behalf of women who challenged the police and parole board in the John Worboys case, women deceived in relationships by undercover police officers and women appealing murder convictions for killing abusive partners. She is also a founder member of the campaign group Justice for Women. Among other accolades, she was named Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2014, Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2018 for public law and Law Society Gazette personality of the year 2019, and awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by Kent University in 2022.
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