Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Domestic Violence
Final Report, published 13 June 2008
COMMENTS by PARITY
relating to domestic abuse in couple relationships
So far as domestic violence in couple relationships is concerned, this latest Inquiry by the Home Affairs Select Committee appears to have been a wasted opportunity to explore the issue in a fresh and more holistic manner. Instead, the Report gives the impression that the Inquiry has been largely listening to and been persuaded by the adherents and practitioners of the now deeply entrenched feminist orthodoxy which insists that domestic abuse in couple relationships is ‘overwhelmingly’ inflicted by and the fault of men. The recommendations made largely reflect uncritically the ‘wish-list’ of such orthodoxy.
The authoritative results of a succession of Home Office surveys consistently showing a substantial level of female abuse in couple relationships have been ignored, and no account has been taken at all of the wealth of academic studies now published worldwide supporting this.
The result is that, in the case of domestic abuse in couple relationships, the Report focuses essentially on female victims and on male perpetrators. Only token mention is given to male victims and almost none to female perpetrators. Although the Report does suggest that more emergency accommodation should be made available for male victims, it appears to ignore completely sex equality law, including the new Gender Equality Duty, by recommending that male victims applying for such accommodation should be means-tested [whilst comparable female victims presumably are not]. The Report makes no comment on the unduly small proportion of prosecutions of female perpetrators nor the total absence of any accredited treatment programmes for female perpetrators. The Committee called no advocates for male victims to give oral evidence and the Report is silent on the particular plight of male victims, and the almost total lack support services and government funding for them.
The overall impression is that, despite the volume of evidence submitted, the Committee has largely paid lip-service to the powerful and influential proponents of the prevailing orthodoxy on domestic violence in couple relationships. Indeed, the Committee’s two specialist advisers on domestic violence are amongst these. The Inquiry has done little to restore balance in addressing the problem of domestic abuse in such relationships, and indeed the consequences of some of its recommendations might well exacerbate it. Nor has the Committee appeared to recognise the finding of extensive academic research that ‘mutual’ abuse is the norm in the majority of violent households, and the fundamental changes that are urgently needed to current public policies and practice to reflect this reality.
Dismayingly, there is little trace in the Report of any importance being attached by the Committee to the equal treatment of the sexes, so espoused by Government, and to the equal rights of both men and women to security of person under Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998.