Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:35 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Bill Butler Bill Butler Labour 3:35 pm, 10th June 2010

There is no doubt that alcohol is part of the problem—I accept that—but how we deal with it is a question for another debate.

I want to say one last thing about the statistics. Given that there is thought still to be an underreporting of domestic abuse, the recent figures are alarming and point to a problem that obviously is widespread.

Behind the cold statistics lies the human cost. There is clear evidence that the likelihood of the abuse of a child taking place is substantially higher when domestic violence is the norm within the household. It is also beyond dispute that domestic violence has a profoundly damaging impact on children. Whether they witness incidents directly or live in a home where it occurs, domestic abuse has a terrible negative impact on children. It scars them emotionally and psychologically.

Scottish Labour believes that male victims of violence should have the appropriate support. Let me make it very clear that my party abhors domestic violence in all its manifestations. We agree, along with organisations such as White Ribbon Scotland, that

"the launch of the men's advice line in Scotland is an important step".

That is why we have no problem with the content of the Scottish Government's motion as long as the amendment in the name of Johann Lamont is accepted. It is an important and necessary amendment because, if accepted, it will ensure that this Parliament's approach to the serious matter of domestic abuse is both balanced and proportionate. There is no doubt that male victims of violence should have support that complements but does not detract from the continuing struggle against violence against women—a pattern of unacceptable behaviour that is rooted in gender inequality.

According to the Home Office British crime survey for 2004-05 and the homicide statistics for 2006-07, women form the majority of the victims of sexual assaults, threats, physical violence and chronic long-term violence. We must always keep that indisputable fact to the fore in seeking to reach a rational consensus on the approach that we should adopt to deal constructively with this serious social problem.