In this post I make two requests: (i) that you to write to your MP regarding the creation of a Government “Violence Against Men and Boys” strategy, and, (ii) if you are a man aged 50 or over and a victim of domestic abuse that you respond to a survey. Skip forward to the advice on those actions if you wish.
In 2021 the UK Government published their revised “Tackling violence against women and girls strategy”. These days they know that they will face widespread criticisms regarding the position of men and boys. In an obvious attempt to head this off, whilst making no difference to anything of substance, the UK Government has just published the preposterously titled, “Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls“. I wish that what lies behind this was merely preposterous. But it’s worse: it’s deeply pernicious.
The latter document states,
“The term ‘violence against women and girls’ refers to acts of violence or
abuse that we know disproportionately affect women and girls. These crimes
include – and are not limited to – rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse,
stalking, ‘honour’-based abuse including forced marriage, ‘revenge porn’, and
the harms associated with sex work and prostitution. “
Indeed they are not limited to that. The 2019 CPS VAWG report includes under the VAWG umbrella, (a) child abuse, and, (b) modern slavery and human trafficking. The report itself shows that substantially more men and boys are the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking than are women and girls. Also, child abuse affects more boys than girls, though the CPS report does not reveal that fact. (Ditto, child exploitation).
So, if being the majority of victims is the defining issue, clearly we need a new category, “VAMB”, Violence Against Men and Boys, into which child abuse, child exploitation, modern slavery and human trafficking should be transferred as they are currently incorrectly placed in VAWG by the Government’s own definition.
In the Foreword to the Government’s revised “Tackling violence against women and girls strategy”, the Minister for Safeguarding, Victoria Atkins, writes,
“We are half the population. We are daughters, sisters, friends, colleagues and partners. Our safety, security and prosperity are everyone’s business. And yet in the 21st century, there are still crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls. This must stop.“
Oh, really? Let me make the logical corollary of that sentiment clear, “all crimes should disproportionately affect men and boys”. Since one sex or the other must be in the majority, and “crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls must stop” that is what the Minister for Safeguarding is insisting upon. Lovely, eh? She should be pleased, anyway, because for all violence it is already true.
(This is the same Minister, by the way, who misled Parliament in July 2019 by claiming that the majority of perpetrators of domestic abuse against men were other men – a claim which is wildly incorrect and known to be so.)
The Home Secretary, in her Foreword, writes,
“I didn’t feel safe. In fact, I was terrified. I carried on walking – I had no choice – but I picked up the pace and clutched my keys in my fist.”
I, too, am frightened. But not by easily avoidable thugs but by these two women, and virtually the entirety of our political class, who wield inescapable power over all of us and are doing so from a position of extreme bigotry. Yes, that’s what this is – prejudice.
It is the most obvious fraud to claim that “VAWG” is legitimised by the majority of victims. If that were so we could label every crime in the UK as “Crimes Against White People” – I trust that makes the prejudice emphatically clear. Moreover, neither women nor girls are the majority victims of crimes of violence unless, as is done in VAWG, attention is restricted to “intimate”, or home-based, violence. So, if being the majority of victims was truly the issue, all crimes of violence – including those involving female victims, would be classed as VAMB, Violence Against Men and Boys.
All this is obnoxious as it attempts to hide away minorities.
But, in reality, VAWG is not motivated by what they claim. It is not motivated by women and girls being the majority victims of intimate violence. It is motivated by sex prejudice.
Consequently, it will not do to have violence against men and boys addressed under the VAWG umbrella because that is to institutionalise prejudice. An example of how this works in practice is provided by the recent Government document “Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls“. It recommends as “best practice” the use of the Respect Male Victims Toolkit. This protocol majors on “screening” male complainants and openly being suspicious they may be abusers masquerading as victims.
Needless to say, the ethos throughout VAWG is to believe women complainants. In short, by allowing a prejudiced axis to control the process, what we get is “believe women, disbelieve men”. This is not hypothetical; surveys of male victims confirm that they experience a very high level of disbelief. Knowing they will not be believed, men often do not even seek help. This is the situation that needs to be overcome, and it is an essential step in doing so that male victimisation is taken out of VAWG.
To put it succinctly, VAWG is a strategy for exerting power and control over male victims: VAWG is itself a methodology for facilitating domestic abuse.
In case you were wondering, the campaign in Northern Ireland for a strategy for men and boys continues, as explained in #BAMS4NI.
Survey for Male Victims aged 50 and over
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is current running a research project into older men as victims of abuse. Whilst the blurb refers to Wales, I’m told by the organisers that any man in the UK aged 50 and over who has been a victim of abuse can contribute. They are keen to get more candidates. They write this,
“You can speak to us over the phone or by video call, which will take around 60 minutes. You can choose to speak to a male or female researcher – whatever you are most comfortable with. In appreciation of your time, we are offering a £30 e-voucher to participants.”
To find out more, contact Opinion Research Services on 07917 658 160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter to MP
Gender Parity UK has provided a template letter you could use or adapt: here. You can find MP’s contact details here.
My own letter is below – feel free to copy or modify (you will need to remove the last para). Mine sent 10/4/22.
Dear (MP name),
I am one of your constituents.
I am writing to ask you to support whenever possible a Violence against Men and Boys (VAMB) strategy.
This is to complement the Government’s recently published updated Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy.
Under the current strategy, male victims are treated as victims of Violence Against Women and Girls. The document published last month ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’ is as preposterous as its title.
The claim that “VAWG” is legitimised because women and girls are the majority of victims of the types of crime in question is a rationalisation, not the true reason.
If being the “majority of victims” was a legitimate means of separating out categories of crime it could be used to hide away minority victims across any and all crimes – clearly not a way to go.
The Victims’ Commissioner is in agreement with the need for a separate strategy for men and boys. In her 2020/21 annual report, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Vera Baird, stated that “The Home Office needs to offer a separate strategy for developing the rights and support services for men and boys who are victims of interpersonal violence of a physical or sexual nature”. The Victims’ Commissioner reiterated this position in September 2021, stating that “It may be that the scale of men and boys’ victimisation is not currently being fully considered”.
As a practical example of how classifying domestic abuse of men under VAWG leads to pernicious outcomes, the document ‘Supporting male victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls’ recommends the use of the Respect Male Victims Toolkit. This protocol majors on “screening” male complainants and openly being suspicious that they may be abusers masquerading as victims. Needless to say, this is not an approach of which anyone would approve in the context of female victims.
Indeed, it was established by the EHRC Welsh Office in 2017 that any service offering support to victims of both sexes and deploying such a screening procedure for men only would “constitute direct discrimination” under the 2010 Equalities Act.
This is one example, but the generic issue is that addressing male victims must be taken out of a strategy which reclassifies them as victims of Violence Against Women and Girls. This makes no sense and has only come about because of the strength of the lobbying in this area.
As a volunteer and former trustee of a charity which is a specialist provider of support to male victims of domestic abuse I am very well acquainted with the reality of male victimisation, despite continuing public incredulity. It is an issue that few men take seriously – until it happens to them.
Reply received from my MP 20/4/22,
Dear Mr ****,
Thank you for contacting me asking my support for a strategy for Violence Against Men and Boys.
I have always been clear that protecting and supporting all victims of violence and domestic abuse, regardless of gender, is of the utmost importance. It is for this reason that I welcomed the landmark Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which includes a new definition of domestic abuse in recognition that around one third of domestic abuse victims are male.
I understand that the term ‘VAWG’ is used to refer to acts of violence or abuse that we know disproportionately, but not exclusively, affect women and girls. As such, both the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan set out the Government’s ambition to reduce the prevalence of all VAWG crimes, regardless of who they affect, and to support all victims/survivors, including men and boys.
I am sure you will also welcome the fact that, alongside the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, the Government has published a refreshed Supporting Male Victims document in recognition of the specific challenges which may be faced by men and boys who are victims of crimes considered violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse. This plan includes commitments to continue to involve diverse national men’s groups in stakeholder engagement on issues related to VAWG, utilise evidence from across Government on male experiences of VAWG crimes to inform relevant future Government policies, and provide a further £1.4 million in 2023-23 to the Male Rape Fund.
Furthermore, I am encouraged that to inform the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, the Home Office actively promoted a public survey to men and boys, including through media such as LADbible Group. The Home Office also held a dedicated men and boys focus group with sector stakeholders, and organisations specifically supporting men and boys helped distribute the victim survey to ensure male victims’ perspectives were gathered. I understand that the Government has taken the feedback from the Call for Evidence into account and recognises the challenges which can be faced by men and boys.
In addition, the Government has made clear that the use of this term cannot and should not negate the experiences of, or provisions for, male victims. Nevertheless, I would be happy to pass on your concerns to my colleagues in the Home Office.
Thank you for raising this subject with me.
on behalf of