Violence Against Men

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:30 pm on 10th June 2010.

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Photo of Hugh O'Donnell Hugh O'Donnell Liberal Democrat 4:30 pm, 10th June 2010

It has been an interesting afternoon in the chamber. I got the impression that we were having two debates. The one that was generated by the Labour Party ranks was, quite rightly, about the extent of violence against women, while the rest of us seemed to be debating services for male victims. That was reflected in some of the rather heated exchanges that took place and the figures that were bandied about.

As Mike Rumbles said, this is the first time in 11 years that the subject has been debated in the chamber, and that is very disappointing. Johann Lamont made many interesting and important points and, in his usual considered way, Nigel Don widened our understanding of those points.

We are talking about the why of domestic violence. However we want to phrase it, there is no doubt that men and women are wired differently and that they react to different situations in different ways, for good or for ill. We need to analyse what goes on, and our analysis needs to go beyond the simple numerical calculation that there are more women victims of domestic violence. The numerical argument becomes about whether more women are using the service because it is there, and men now have a service so more of them are beginning to use it. Does the presence of the service increase the need for it, or does the need for a service create its presence? The debate has become a bit like that, and it is difficult to get behind the issues.