Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:07 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour 3:07 pm, 10th June 2010

I am not saying that anything is okay. We have to understand the problem in order to tackle it.

The argument is put at its gentlest when it says that men do not report because of the stigma and because it is humiliating. I appreciate that that will be a motivating force for some of the men who are caught in such circumstances.

The argument is sometimes more strongly put that the women's lobby and women's organisations are resistant and hostile to the idea that we have a responsibility to men. I rebut that latter argument just as strongly. Women who have been confronted daily by the pain caused by violence are already shaped by compassion and anger about what the abuse of power can do. It is interesting to see how exercised feminists in particular are about antisocial behaviour in our communities, for example, because they understand the abuse of power and powerlessness.

I acknowledge that the issue of stigma strikes a serious chord but, when a man feels that he is stigmatised and humiliated because he suffers violence at the hands of a woman, that confirms that we are all shaped and affected by the gender roles that we are expected to take. Their experience also describes that gender challenge. Women's equality is freedom for men too. The argument confirms the underlying issue of gender inequality and the unacceptable roles that we are expected to take.

We should be clear that domestic abuse is not about poverty or about alcohol; it is about power and the way in which people abuse that power. In some circumstances, it will be women abusing power over the man with whom they live. We must talk about provision, and an assurance about funding for next year would be welcome. We must also talk about protection and recognise the progress that the police have made in acknowledging that the home is not just a private domain. However, crucially, when it comes to prevention, this understanding is central. In speaking to our boys and girls about what a damaging, corrosive problem this is for us all, we must also get them to confront the why—it must never be "just the way things are".

In conclusion, this is not an argument about resources predicated on some kind of battle of the sexes or some sort of fight for attention between men and women. It is an argument—in the interests of women and men, our daughters and our sons—that, in dealing with the lived experience of domestic abuse, we confront the ideas that trap women with violence and the messages to men that this is what they do and that they are a lesser kind of man if they are the victim of violence at the hands of a woman rather than a man. It is in naming the crime that we expose the inequality and create a fairer, more equal and safer society for us all—men and women.

I move amendment S3M-6531.2, to insert at end:

", and reaffirms that domestic abuse is rooted in gender inequality, that overwhelmingly victims are women and that eradicating domestic abuse will only succeed where that pattern is acknowledged."