Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:24 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Nigel Don Nigel Don Scottish National Party 4:24 pm, 10th June 2010

Forgive me, but there are a few things that I want to cover.

Of course, that does not alter the fact that the experience of female victims is very different from the experience of male victims. Walking down the street, one sees an awful lot of black eyes on ladies' faces and, by and large, victims who are men do not suffer from broken bones. Clearly, violence against women is an issue. However, in terms of pure numbers, we need to be careful not to imagine that quite as much domestic violence is in the direction of women as one might have thought.

In addition, I want to refer to some statistical information from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has attempted to do some research on domestic abuse. The CDC's findings state:

"Each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. Men are the victims of about 2.9 million intimate partner related physical assaults."

That is over a third of those that could be established. I suggest that that might turn out to be somewhere nearer the right kind of proportion, although I acknowledge that the outcome for male and female victims will be very different.

I have to agree with Patrick Harvie that domestic abuse is a complex gender issue, but that does not alter the fact that it is a gender issue.

Therefore, I can only try to draw together what Mike Rumbles said and what Patrick Harvie and Johann Lamont said by saying, "Look, guys, I think that you are actually talking about the same thing." Gender issues are involved, because women's experience and men's experience of domestic violence are different. Clearly, we recognise—I hope that we recognise—that men have a position in our society that is generally one of power and women, generally speaking, suffer as a consequence. Surely, however, there is also a power analysis. Given that the matter depends entirely on the power within the relationship, it does not follow that the woman is the unpowerful one. I think that we can all see that, so we should not fall out over it, but there have been some slightly intemperate comments one way or another that worry me and that we could perhaps just see off.

As one of the final speakers in the debate I want to highlight something that has not previously been mentioned, which is how public authorities say that they deal with the issue. In a letter to me, the Lord Advocate stressed that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service takes all allegations of domestic abuse very seriously, whether the victim is male or female. In the view of procurators fiscal, there will be no presumptions in their analysis of any case. Clearly, they need to take the information that they are provided with, but it is clear that the Lord Advocate believes that there is no gender analysis at her end of proceedings.