Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:16 pm on 10th June 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative 3:16 pm, 10th June 2010

I do not have those figures to hand. However, the point that I am making is that it is not just a matter of members of one sex being the victims of domestic violence. Both sexes are affected—they are not affected to the same extent, but there is a growing problem that is affecting male victims, which the Parliament has to recognise.

It is disappointing that there is an annual increase in the number of incidents that occur. We should question whether that is due partly to an increased feeling of confidence about reporting such events. If that is so, we should perhaps be relieved that people who are living in such abusive relationships feel able to come forward and seek help. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of males who have reported domestic abuse. If that is due to better reporting, that should perhaps be welcomed. I welcome it for two reasons: first, because of the bravery that is shown by these men and any victim who tries to break the vicious circle that they have found themselves in; and, secondly, because it shows that stereotypes and stigmas are finally starting to be broken.

In 2008-09, 57 per cent of domestic abuse incidents that were recorded by the police involved a victim who had previously been abused. That is why it is vital that we do everything that we can to encourage victims to come forward, regardless of sex, and support them in making a change.

The other part of the debate concerns the fact that support has not been made available to male victims of domestic abuse in the same way that it has been for female victims. To follow that point through, does that mean that there has been inadequate provision for female domestic abuse offenders, compared with that which has been in place for males? That is a point that Mary Scanlon raised when the Public Petitions Committee considered this issue.

The Scottish Conservatives are not calling for funding to be withdrawn from services that provide security and support for female victims of domestic abuse, but we can no longer ignore the prevalence of violence against men and not address it.

Much of the support that is available for domestic abuse victims is targeted at meeting the needs of female victims, because they are the majority and because those who are subjected to domestic abuse require a specific sort of help. However, that latter point also applies to males. The figures show that 43 per cent of men said that their most recent experience of physical domestic abuse was

"just something that happens", in comparison with 14 per cent of women who felt the same way. That percentage of women is far too high, but it is unacceptable, in a modern society, for 43 per cent of male victims to believe that.

I hope that I have gone some way towards dispelling the myth that seems to persist in some parts of this Parliament that, in supporting provisions that provide help for male victims of domestic abuse, we are in some way not supportive of the provision of support for female victims. That is simply nonsense. That argument does not work the other way round, it does not work on any other topic and it should not be allowed to work on this issue, either.

The Scottish Conservatives welcome the Scottish Government's commitment to supply funding for the men's advice line helpline. I especially welcome the Government's commitment to collect statistics and information. Now that we all, quite clearly, recognise this as a problem, if we are to tackle it efficiently and effectively, we need to have a better understanding of what we are dealing with.

I hope that the Scottish Government and other parties can support our amendment, which will enable us to come to a better understanding of the scope of the problem that Scotland faces and how best to address it. I am disappointed in the amendment in the name of Johann Lamont. Frankly, she seems to be fighting the battles of yesterday when this debate has moved on.

I move amendment S3M-6531.1, to leave out from fourth "that" to end and insert:

", and requires the Scottish Government to report back to the Parliament with further details on the information collected and what action it plans to take before any future decisions about services are made."