Here’s one I wrote before I got distracted by Brexit…
Parliamentary Debate on Domestic Violence
Parliament held a debate on 04 February 2016 considering the role that men can play to reduce domestic violence against women. The House of Commons produced a briefing stating that domestic violence is a ‘key priority’ for the Government and an updated violence against women and girls strategy is due to be published shortly.
Parliament recognized that campaigning groups said that men can play a part in preventing violence in a number of ways which include:
- Being a positive role model to other men and speaking out against domestic violence, helping to change attitudes and social norms.
- Taking on a leadership role in the community and using this opportunity to speak out against violence.
- Confront sexist, homophobic and other prejudicial remarks.
- Not buying magazines, movies or watch television programs that portray women in a sexually degrading or violent manner.
The briefing stated that the cost of domestic violence is estimated to employers as some 3.1 billion. The total cost is an estimated 23 billion. There are various factors taken into account, including the human and emotional suffering and the subsequent suffering of children.
The debate discussed the White Ribbon campaign and how local authorities can embrace his campaign by becoming a member themselves, by reviewing code of conducts for employee, by commissioning services ensuring that the principles of the Write Ribbon campaign are written into new contracts.
Examples of inappropriate behaviour among young girls which were laughed off by other men were cited; also examples of women being inappropriately touched by strangers on the dance floor, in a bar, on a tube, on a train – it appeared prevalent in public places where space is confined and men take advantage of the opportunity to grope and inappropriately touch women.
One teacher stated that violence against women is everywhere, on every street a woman is taking a beating while just keeping quiet and waiting for the ordeal to be over. In every night spot in the country, some teenaged girl is groped and shamed. Every school in the country has a kid whose time there is respite from what they see at home. When a problem is everywhere, ‘we need everyone to join in the fight to stop it’. The MP Geoff Phillips read out a letter from a teacher.
She then continued, this is not an ‘us and them’ issue for women and men. Women fight for their rights to live free from violence are not attacking men; they are defending women. The more men who join us in the fight again violence against women, the less it will happen. We must encourage every woman who suffers violence to report it to the police. I wish I had.
Cat Smith, labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood stated:
‘It is clear that violence against women remains a significant problem in Britain, with 900,000 calls relating to domestic violence to the police up until March 2015. This equate to a staggering 100 calls every hour of every day’.
Solutions to reduce Domestic Violence
The solutions they suggested focus on education, having suitable role models to follow and refuge provision. The Government has announced 40 million between 2016 and 2020 for domestic abuse services including refuges and a two million grant to Women’s Aid and SafeLives to support early intervention. However, a better outcome for women would potentially be if they could stay in their home with their family whilst the perpetrator is removed and not allowed to move in with the next partner to start the cycle of abuse all over again. This was the view cited by Karen Bradley, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Home Department. She stated as follows:
‘Women and girls are far more likely to be victims of such crimes and we recognise that inequality and gender play fundamental roles in violence against women and girls. We all have important roles to play in challenging the cultural norms and stereotypes that underpin violence against women.’
In my experience, domestic violence can go unreported for many years. Eventually the victim is strong enough to make a complaint either to the police or via the civil court via a non-molestation application. The response of the perpetrator is often denial and mud slinging. I have had cases where large men have accused petite women of fighting with them. This stretches the imagination somewhat and even photographic evidence of a black eye and a broken jaw does not halt such perpetrators from denying the abuse and alleging a ‘tit for tat’ scenario. This makes the whole situation more traumatic for the victim.
The difficulty in a lot of case is a financial one. The woman will be left without a home for herself and often her children. The offer of a refuge is a short term solution and is not a preferred option for many.
Domestic Violence against women
Two women a week are murdered by their partner or an ex-partner. This statistic is shocking, but to shift the cultural norm that it is acceptable for a man to use violence against a woman when he is provoked or out of control, education is required at every level.
It is not acceptable to bully another human being. The domestic violence laws have been strengthened recently to take into account forms of domestic abuse which fall short of violence. Often domestic abuse increases in severity and frequency.
Campaigns have been used in the past showing a fist followed by a bouquet of flowers. The remorse and apology the next day claiming undying love and the fact that it is only because of this love the man was driven to such behaviour requires a unified voice to shout out and proclaim that this is wholly unacceptable. Love does not involve violence. It would be ridiculous for a woman to hire a mercenary to beat up her husband if he was late home from work and respond the next day that this was only because she loved him and he had driven her to it. Such a scenario is laughable in its ridiculousness. Men and women need to rethink the social norm that domestic violence has become.
The debate states that every woman who undergoes domestic violence should call the police. Unfortunately the police switch boards would be jammed. Most women consider it is a waste of police time. What do you do if at 2 a.m. your husband refuses to allow you to sleep, switches the light on and pulls the duvet cover off of the bed? You are scared and the only reason you cannot go to sleep is because he will not let you and will not leave the room. If you go to the bathroom, he kicks the door in. Do you call the police? The answer is probably no because you consider that the police have more important things to do, however, such behaviour is wholly unacceptable. The above scenario happened to me, an experienced divorce lawyer and, yes I did not call the police. And yes the domestic abuse continued, worsened and yes I swiftly ended the marriage. And yes his disruptive behaviour became worse. It is not an exaggeration to say that he tried to destroy my life and career. I now have 9 civil injunctions on him – 4 for life and 5 for 5 years… there were 14 criminal investigations…
The only way to end this is via zero tolerance akin to Mayor Galliano’s campaign in New York. Whether there is enough traction and goodwill to facilitate this will be bourn out as to how the Government approaches the next stage. The mention of the cost of 23 billion may well promote a conservative government to take action against this abuse. Educating your children that such behaviour is wrong, if at the same time you allow such behaviour to continue in your own home, is nonsensical. Each of us can make a small step to bring about this change and we need to start now.