Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Even More Gender-Biased approaches

There recently appeared in a national Christian magazine an article on Domestic Violence.    I was pleased to see this issue being raised however, I was rather concerned with way in which some statistical data was presented as it implied that all DV perpetrators are men and that very few men experience domestic abuse themselves.  I did challenge this with both the author and the magazine’s editor and presented the real evidence arguing that Domestic Violence is not a Gender-specified  crime.  The editor informed me that they would use my feedback.  To date as far as I’m aware, nothing has appeared.

Last week, my regional newspaper reported on a fund-raising event held by a local Domestic Violence charity.   This charity’s target audience is women and children only.  Their website pays a token acknowledge to male victims, but the main emphasis is offering services to women and children.  They offer ‘training’ too using the Freedom programme.  If you’re unsure what the Freedom programme consists of , this is the explanation of what you can except:

The Freedom Programme is for any woman who wishes to learn more about the reality of domestic violence and abuse.
The aims of the Freedom Programme are:
 To help women understand the beliefs held by abusive men and in so doing, recognise which of these beliefs they have shared
 To illustrate the effects of domestic violence on children
 To assist women to recognise potential future abusers
To help women gain self-esteem and the confidence to improve the quality of their lives
To introduce women to community resources such as Women’s Aid, the Police Domestic Violence Unit, The Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, local Colleges etc.

Hardly, a Gender-Neutral approach to Domestic Violence then!!!

What concerned me about the report was mention that this local charity is responsible for training 4,000 police and professionals a year in the Nottinghamshire area.  Being trained in such a biased manner can not be good for Domestic Violence prevention and restorative services.  I posted an online comment making such a point.  I also addressed my viewpoint to the Letters page, which strangely wasn’t published. 
I decided too, to take up this issue with the local Police Commissioner.  This is what I expressed:

Dear Mr *****,
I was deeply concerned to read that XXXXXXXXX  are responsible for training 4,000 police officers and professionals a year to spot and help prevent domestic abuse in 25th November 2013 edition of the XXXXXXXX.   XXXXXXXX  are a gender-specific charity and offer a biased approach to domestic abuse prevention.  Little wonder that the problem of domestic abuse is spiralling out of control when inappropriate training is being given.
Equation does not address the fact that 1 in 6 men will also experience domestic violence and that 60% of domestic violence incidents are mutual with the female partner being the greater aggressor.
Domestic violence is a complex issue and the training given should be more representative of a Gender-neutral approach. 
Yours sincerely,

I received the following reply:

One of my key objectives is to protect, support and respond to victims, witnesses and vulnerable people, without favour to either gender.
I do fully appreciate that domestic abuse is not confined to women being abused by male partners, although it is a fact that one in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. 
But no-one should be a victim of domestic abuse and we are all working with partners to both reduce reoffending and offer support to those at risk of this type of behaviour.

I subsequently replied:

It is also a fact that 1 in 6 men will be a victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lives and this is not being addressed because many of the agencies involved refuse to acknowledge this, casting men as batterers and women as victims.  There has been research available for the last 40 years to reinforce this truth.  I am in contact with leading global academic researchers (who all happen to be female) who are continuing fighting to improve DV services and get the message out that DV isn’t the gender issue its portrayed as being.  I'd love to help our county move away from the Patriarchy influence that inhibits its services and would be willing to discuss this at greater length with you and/or your team.  Best regards,

The next day, a news story broke where a famous female TV presenter was charged and received a police caution for common assault on her husband.  By accepting a police caution, one admits their guilt.  Strangely enough, the story has appeared in the media with little other comment.   This gave me one last chance to try and get the message across to the Police Comissioner:

Just to give credence to my last post, I'm sure that its not escaped your notice that XXXXXX. the TV presenter has just been charged with common assault against her husband.   I would restate that the work going on with your partners is gender-biased and far from the real picture.

Then today, I was greeted with more gender-biased coverage:

Services to help female victims of domestic violence are at "breaking point" because of "shocking gaps" in funding, Women's Aid has warned.

With a name like Women’s Aid, you expect them to be Gender-biased.  However, there are many including myself who believe that Domestic Violence services should never have been about gender but has highjacked by Misandrists who saw an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon  and receive uncontested funding for a whole range of services for women only.

My first reaction was well at least there are services for women and children in the first place.  Very little funding has ever been made available  for services for men. 
And then, the Statistics used to justify the services were given by Women’s Aid CEO,

Women's Aid chief executive Polly Neate said: "Specialist gender-specific domestic violence services are reaching a breaking point.
"Over 1.2 million women were estimated to have experienced domestic violence last year and two women a week are killed by perpetrators."

No mention of the 800,000 men experiencing domestic violence.  The estimation is also that one women every four days is killed, but this has evolved into two women a week.  Last thing I knew was that a week had  seven days, not eight days in it.  A slight distortion that no-one challenges.  One women every four days is still one too many..  No mention, mind you, of the one man every seventeen days killed by a partner either. 
Domestic Violence is not a Gender-Specific crime and should not be treated as such.  However, such biased shown often results with men feeling that they have nowhere to go to seek help.  Without any hope, alienated from family and children, many men end up taking their own lives.

The one gender-specific issue that is never addressed is suicide.  Very few woman commit suicide. Tragically, in the UK, the figures have been quite consistent over the last few years.   4,500 men take their own lives a year.  That equates to  375 men a month or 86 a week or , to break it down even further, 12 men a day kill themselves. 

And yet, very little is being done to change this shocking fact that is happening in our communities.