Clare’s Law for Women Only?
October 26, 2011
On Wednesday the UK government proposed a 12-week consultation on ‘Clare’s Law’, but would the law only apply to women?
Home secretary Theresa May issued a statement about the consultation of a new law where future partners can be screened to see if they have a history of domestic violence. The home secretary said that “ending violence against women and girls” is a personal priority of hers, but aren’t men affected by domestic violence too?
Theresa May wasn’t the only one to refer to only female victims when talking about domestic violence; several newspapers also started their stories on Clare’s Law with the word ‘women’. The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, The Sun and the Daily Mirror were all guilty of not acknowledging male victims of abuse, although many of the titles have actually published articles about male victims on previous occasions.
The Fresh Outlook contacted the Home Office to see if the proposed law would only apply to females wanting to know this information and a spokesperson quickly stated that the law would apply to men as well.
Mark Brooks chairman of the charity Mankind that specialises in helping male victims of abuse, is concerned that Theresa May’s failure to address male victims when issuing a statement on the consultation disregards male victims of domestic violence.
“It continues to be disappointing that when a gender neutral initiative is launched regarding domestic abuse that the government continues to only portray it as an issue that affects women. Even their own research shows that one in three victims of domestic abuse are male,” he told The Fresh Outlook.
“The proposals around Clare’s Law apply to both women and men and therefore the government must make it one hundred percent clear that that is this case instead of ignoring male victims.”
According to a British crime survey – ‘Crime in England and Wales 2010/11′ – one in six men aged 16 or over and one in four women will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime.
The Home Office told The Fresh Outlook that they recognise that both men and women can be victims of abuse and the “proposals would apply to men and women” wanting to access information.
The coalition government launched a paper back in November called ‘Call to end violence against women and girls’ but has not considered male victims within this.
“There remains a mentality within the government and parts of the public sector that domestic abuse should only be talked about as if it only affects women – this is a form of institutional sexism and has no place in today’s society if we are truly aiming for gender equality,” said Mr Brooks.
“Lots of the government press releases are gender neutral…however, some of the media convert the stories to addressing ‘wife beaters’ etc. That’s not fair and that’s not what the police or the government have said. They’ve used gender neutral language, but the papers have converted it.”
The charity chairman is now going to complain to Theresa May about her comments and to members of the UK media.
For more information on male victims of domestic abuse, visit the Mankind website www.mankind.org.uk
By Ben Perks
[Image courtesy of Darmyn Jean-louis]