Domestic violence in the UK


by Rumbold
23rd October, 2008 at 6:56 pm    

A few weeks ago, Ashik said something that made me think. Now, it wasn’t any of his BNP-esque rhetoric about interracial couples, rather it was a criticism that by talking a lot about ‘honour’-based violence (HBV), Pickled Politics was somehow operating a double standard because we didn’t spend enough time discussing domestic violence throughout British society. I don’t think that it is a problem posting frequently on HBV. This is one of the few sites that does, and many people who read it have experienced the problems associated with HBV, or at least the attitudes that underpin it. However, he was right in that we don’t write enough about domestic violence in wider society.

Thus I would like to direct your attention at this post over at the F Word, which is about a journalist’s time spent working at a domestic violence shelter. Her account is interesting enough, but it is the statistics that are the really interesting part:

* Domestic violence accounts for between 16% and one quarter of all recorded violent crime.
* Ten suicides are ascribed to it per week.
* Today there is still a shortage of women’s refuges – there are four animal sanctuaries to every women’s refuge.
* A third of local authorities offered no specialised services at all.

Given that we have an evident shortage of domestic violence shelters, I think that we should come up with a new public spending test for all projects over a certain value. Namely, can this project be justified (or at least the amount spent on it) when there is a lack of funding for domestic violence refuges? You could throw in a shortage of money at NICE as well if you wanted to. That would concentrate minds over the Olympics, which would have to justify an estimated £20 billions pounds of taxpayers’ money, as well as other projects.


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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Sex equality






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  1. Amrit — on 23rd October, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

    ‘Today there is still a shortage of women’s refuges – there are four animal sanctuaries to every women’s refuge.’

    Please excuse me while I go break something. The only words that come to mind here are: FOR FUCK’S SAKE! Forget knife crime, this is far more indicative of a ‘broken’ society.

    I may need to write about this.

  2. Cabalamat — on 23rd October, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    Forget knife crime, this is far more indicative of a ‘broken’ society.

    Britain isn’t a broken society. It’s a society where most things mostly work most of the time.

    If you want examples of broken societies, consider Somalia, Afghanistan or Haiti.

  3. Amrit — on 23rd October, 2008 at 8:26 pm  

    Yes, Cabalamat, I know. That’s why I put it in exclamation marks…

  4. Amrit — on 23rd October, 2008 at 8:45 pm  

    I mean, quotation marks.

  5. Ashik — on 23rd October, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

    Hey thanks for this Rumbold. This thread tells me you have a genuine interest in helping individuals who are victims or potential victims of domestic violence (of which HBV is only a part, with some features unique to the South Asian diaspora due to factors such as extended family). Whatever form it takes, domestic violence follows a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victims.

    In my opinion those who seek to use domestic violence in order to validate controversial and contested issues such as inter-racial and religious relationships are akin to taking an exclusively feminist pov to domestic violence, which focusses on men as the primary perpetrators of violence against women. Inevitably this targetting of a group creates defensive reactions. This does nothing to help the victims.

    The problem isn’t talking about HBV but the overspill into attacking South Asian culture and tradition generally. For example will this thread on Domestic violence create overspill into observations about the casual nature of relationships amongst Caucasians?

  6. MixTogether — on 23rd October, 2008 at 10:30 pm  

    The reason that domestic violence in the Asian community can and should be focused on in isolation on Pickled Politics are several.

    1. This site has an Asian flavour, hence the Pickled bit. It is not Salt and Vinegar Politics.

    2. Asian domestic violence is particularly insidious because it has the tacit support of large parts of the Asian community who still buy into the false notion that honour resides in women’s behaviour.

    3. Due to decades of Multiculturalism and misplaced, politically motivated cultural ‘sensitivity’, domestic violence within the Asian community has been challenged and tackled substantially less well and less frequently by the authorities than it should have been. Ask yourself why Jasvinder Sanghera has to write a book and nearly finish herself off running round giving talks just to get a small political response.

    4. On the brighter side, the law of diminishing returns dictates that a little more focus on the Asian problem would yield better and faster improvements than a lot more focus on the mainstream problem.

    PP is one of the only voices on the net with some gravitas on the issue, and it should continue to press for specific changes in the Asian community, not water its message down to please lone dissenters.

    IMHO.

  7. Don — on 23rd October, 2008 at 10:54 pm  

    an exclusively feminist pov to domestic violence, which focusses on men as the primary perpetrators of violence against women.

    I know, absurd , isn’t it? When in fact the primary perpertrators are …sorry, who?

    the casual nature of relationships amongst Caucasians?

    Now, that’s just attention-seeking.

  8. MaidMarian — on 23rd October, 2008 at 11:03 pm  

    Rumbold – Interesting post, but one caveat.

    This stat about animal sanctuaries – how many of those are in receipt of public funds in one form or another, relative to the womens sanctuaries? I don’t doubt for a second that more services for domestic violence are needed.

    I see everything you are getting at, but if you have an issue with what charities individuals elect to donate to, surely you need to take it up with society rather than just the government?

  9. Pablo — on 23rd October, 2008 at 11:10 pm  

    I don’t agree that domestic violence in the Asian community gets little public recognition. I think in the last few years the issue has had an increasing visibility in the media. As to how that fits into rates of domestic violence in wider society, or how it plays into the way Asian life in the UK is generally perceived or depicted, well, these are complex and related issues that are not easy to answer.

  10. Ashik — on 23rd October, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    In response to Mix Together @6, it is dangerous to isolate domestic violence by community, given the similarities of experience eg. patterns like continual abuse, controlling behavior and power-play between abuser and victim. Pickled Politics has Non-Asian members and visitors and we should be concerned about domestic violence occurring throughout the UK.

    1. As Pickled Politics has an Asian flavour, I am sure that you would agree it should represent views from throughout the diverse South Asian community in the UK and beyond rather than Anglicised niche elements. As you yourself allude, permissive ideas are not widespread amongst South Asians.

    2. In my opinion domestic violence in the West generally has been tacitly validated by depiction of women in the popular media as sex objects for commercial exploitation and the proliferation of pornography (nowadays the line between what is acceptable and soft porn is blurred ref: many a music video). It is particularly insidious because it is falsely put to women as ‘liberating’ and is widely accepted. A rise in celebrity culture is also at fault, not everyone can look, behave and spend like the Beckhams.

    3. Due to decades (at least since the sexual revolution of the 60’s) of permissive consumer-driven culture the causes of domestic violence and the consequent view of women in society has not been challenged at all by the powers that be for fear of challenging commercial interests and of being seen as regressive. No, it bloody well isn’t normal for families to break down as often as they do while parents divorce the first chance they get and feral teenagers run amoke collecting asbos like medals on a battlefield and knife crime takes it’s inevitable toll.

    4. I think there needs to be focus on the problem of domestic violence across the board, especially the causes with a focus on generational changes in the role of men and women where the role of the former has often been co-opted by the latter eg. In the workplace as breadwinner.

    I don’t think pressing for ‘specific changes in the Asian community’ is going to get you far, Changes and adaptations which occur will do so over time as the communities themselves change eg. in demographics and socio-economic and political profile. Even so I expect South Asians to retain a more conservative outlook on social matters. Asians generally (inc. Chinese & Japanese) generally put more emphasise on communal rights and harmony rather than individual rights. Governments can’t legislate cultural changes and this is why New Labour did not criminalise forced marriages.

  11. Ravi Naik — on 24th October, 2008 at 1:42 am  

    In my opinion domestic violence in the West generally has been tacitly validated by depiction of women in the popular media as sex objects for commercial exploitation and the proliferation of pornography

    That’s not true. Domestic violence is perpetuated by weak men, who cowardly vent their frustrations by hitting women and children. On the other hand, men and women use pornography (and erotic material) because they are sexual beings.

    I think there needs to be focus on the problem of domestic violence across the board, especially the causes with a focus on generational changes in the role of men and women where the role of the former has often been co-opted by the latter eg. In the workplace as breadwinner.

    You seem to be saying that the cause of domestic violence is that women decide to work and earn more money than men? How amusing.

  12. Roger — on 24th October, 2008 at 2:05 am  

    “‘Today there is still a shortage of women’s refuges – there are four animal sanctuaries to every women’s refuge.’
    … Forget knife crime, this is far more indicative of a ‘broken’ society.”

    Apart from Cabalamat’s point, not necessarily; women may not- should not- need refuges except for a short time in emergency; animal sanctuaries may need to look after their inmates for the rest of their lives.

  13. Sofia — on 24th October, 2008 at 9:48 am  

    Domestic violence is not just about physical violence…the bruises can go away and broken bones heal (most of the time). It’s the mental violence sometimes that stays with you..and not just with the woman, but her children if she has any.

  14. Rumbold — on 24th October, 2008 at 10:00 am  

    Ashik:

    “Whatever form it takes, domestic violence follows a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour through which the abuser seeks power over their victims.”

    Agreed. And I like your point about talking a bit more about female on male violence as well. Not because it is a competition, but if one assumes that domestic violence is just about male on female violence, then we are missing the point.

    MixTogether:

    Thnaks for your defence of Pickled Politics’ focus on HBV. I really don’t think that we will be watering it down anytime soon. Good points.

    MaidMarian:

    “This stat about animal sanctuaries – how many of those are in receipt of public funds in one form or another, relative to the womens sanctuaries? I don’t doubt for a second that more services for domestic violence are needed.”

    Actually, that is an excellent point. I suppose it tells us something not only about the spending priorities of the state, but people’s own personal preferences as well.

  15. Jai — on 24th October, 2008 at 10:47 am  

    As you yourself allude, permissive ideas are not widespread amongst South Asians.

    Permissive ideas, to varying degrees, are more widespread amongst some socio-economic and regional/religious British Asian groups than others, especially amongst the 2nd-generation and most of all amongst educated professionals. I certainly wouldn’t define all this as “niche”, especially not these days.

    In my opinion domestic violence in the West generally has been tacitly validated by depiction of women in the popular media as sex objects for commercial exploitation and the proliferation of pornography (nowadays the line between what is acceptable and soft porn is blurred ref: many a music video).

    I don’t quite understand what’s being implied here — that depicting women erotically in the media somehow directly encourages men to beat the crap out of them, or that men behave in this way due to sexual frustration if they feel that their wives/girlfriends don’t match the attractiveness of women in the media ?

    Also, see Ravi’s first paragraph in #11.

    Due to decades (at least since the sexual revolution of the 60’s) of permissive consumer-driven culture the causes of domestic violence and the consequent view of women in society has not been challenged at all by the powers that be for fear of challenging commercial interests and of being seen as regressive.

    Domestic violence against women had been occurring in the West long before the 60s; it had nothing to do with their depiction in the media and everything to do with patriarchal mindsets in Western culture at the time encouraging presumed “ownership” and domination over women and the alleged right of a man to impose his will on the women in his life via the use of violence if necessary.

    ***************************

    MixTogether’s points in #6 are also accurate; there are some specific dynamics within elements of Asian culture which result in domestic violence — or at least not enough being done to address such behaviour and the causes behind the associated attitudes.

    I do not think it is appropriate to attempt to dilute the focus with responses of “But white people do it too !!!” due to (in this particular instance) a misguided sense of “ethnic patriotism”. To resurrect a term some regulars used fairly frequently a while back, it could be called “whataboutery”.

  16. Jai — on 24th October, 2008 at 10:58 am  

    Actually, I’ll modify my last point (incidentally, the charge of potential “whataboutery” was aimed at Ashik, not Rumbold).

    If Rumbold wishes to promote a discussion about domestic violence in Britain in general then I have no objections to that, although it’s still worth bearing in mind that there are some drivers specific to Asians and elements of Asian culture. There is of course also a considerable overlap with the reasons that men in the rest of society may behave that way too (ie. basically being bastards and also having underlying misogynistic attitudes towards women).

  17. Pablo — on 24th October, 2008 at 1:58 pm  

    The point is that there are different drivers for domestic violence in different situations. One form of domestic violence is not more insidious than the other. All forms of domestic violence are insidious. But different types of DV need different focal points.

  18. Priya — on 24th October, 2008 at 9:55 pm  

    Ashik #10.

    “Asians generally (inc. Chinese & Japanese) generally put more emphasise on COMMUNAL rights and harmony rather than INDIVIDUAL rights.”

    Quite so – as a refugee from Leicester (now living in Norwich), I quite agree. As a young woman (of Asian origin) it was was indeed the case in the town from which i have thankfully escaped, never to return (except to remind me how oppressive it was).

    I felt that I had absolutely no freedom “to be myself” whatsoever – whether it be going out clubbing, or walking down the high street wearing hot pants (illegal in Saudi Arabia but perfectly legal in the UK).

    The good people of East Anglia have allowed me freedoms which never seemed to exist in the Midlands.

    P.S: There is no Asian “community” in East Anglia – just individuals of Asian origin who are free “to do their own thing” but always mindful of the the fact that they are living in ENGLAND – not in India & Pakistan. Long may that awareness of the obvious continue.

  19. Shamit — on 25th October, 2008 at 1:03 am  

    “Governments can’t legislate cultural changes and this is why New Labour did not criminalise forced marriages” -

    Are you implying that a British Citizen over the age of 18 could be forced to marry someone and the Government would not give them protection?

    That is a basic violation of human rights and as is domestic violence. Domestic violence is a plague on all our houses — people might wish to justify it with causes but in my book it is non justifiable and it is betrayal of a sacred trust whether be it between spouses or parents & children.

    Somehow in my anglicized brain I find it hard to see the role of the community here except for may be calling the cops while restraining the offender or providing the victim/s with shelter. And my community comprises of all people and not restricted by particular religion and/or colour.

    I know in a progressive Asian society that should be a given yet there are many today who believe that is simply a sin and a surefire to reach hell.

    As I have reiterated many times in the past the community is the problem in the Asian community rarely a solution. But if people so dislike Britain and its multi-cultural society then why stay here?

    Or are we envisioning blocks and parts of cities to be inhabited by a single racial group and all economic opportunities and life should be limited within that group and geographical area — well that’s apartheid. But seems like that’s what some preach.

    And I fail to realize through my obviously limited intellect — how is to going to help the Asian community by saying white people do it too?

    Or if we keep ourselves separate from rest of the society everything would be fine? Why would Asians want Asians not to be part of the mainstream British culture? Should we have formalised Asian ghettos run by the community?

  20. Ashik — on 25th October, 2008 at 11:41 am  

    My comment about government inability to force societal cultural change through legislation means just that. For example India has been unable to rid itself of the inequitous dowry and caste systems despite decades of legislative and political efforts. In fact it is the fruits of the (admittedly uneven and limited) economic liberalisation which is ever so slowly empowering women and low-caste individuals in the desi marriage market as parents look more toward ones education and social mobility in finding a partner.

    While I agree DV is a plague on all our houses, I happen to think criminalisation of forced marriages is a step too far. Other legislation eg. assault and kidnapping can be used to punish perpetrators. South Asian culture is very family-centric, even some victims and potential victims of forced marriages are unlikely to approach authorities for help if they think family members may be arrested. In many cases individuals suffering DV may wish to continue some form of relationship with their partners and family members, especially for the sake of children.

  21. MaidMarian — on 26th October, 2008 at 1:26 am  

    Shamit (19) ‘Are you implying that a British Citizen over the age of 18 could be forced to marry someone and the Government would not give them protection?’

    You need to be very careful there. Are you suggesting there implicitly that the government has a right to prevent marriages? Surely your argumen cuts both ways.

    I have had people on talkboards suggest that my marriage to a non-EU person is somehow ‘less.’ Once you start involving government in marriage, probably the most private decision a person can make, you are on a terribly slippy slope.

    Let me be clear – I see where you are coming from. But your argument has a flip side.

    Tempting though it is to limit debate, there is more to consider here than Asian marriage conventions. Far more.

  22. persephone — on 26th October, 2008 at 1:30 am  

    “South Asian culture is very family-centric”

    The strength of the family unit in asians is a strength but it is also a weakness.

    Keeping DV hidden & within the family is part of what makes DV self perpetuating. The added issue with this is that the next generation – both the victim & the perpetrator – learns & repeats this behaviour.

    This cycle has to be broken.

  23. douglas clark — on 26th October, 2008 at 4:46 am  

    persephone,

    It wasn’t that long ago that the UK would turn a blind eye:

    “It’s just a domestic”…

    was quite a prevelant idea in policing. It isn’t any more and the new rules ought to apply to everyone….

    Ashik should grow up and stop defending the indefensible.

    South Asian culture is very family-centric, even some victims and potential victims of forced marriages are unlikely to approach authorities for help if they think family members may be arrested. In many cases individuals suffering DV may wish to continue some form of relationship with their partners and family members, especially for the sake of children.

    Really?

    There is no such thing as communal bruises. And remaining a victim is no solution to a clear wrong.

  24. Shamit — on 26th October, 2008 at 2:51 pm  

    MaidMarian,

    I am not clear why you had that impression from my point@19. The Government has no business in preventing real marriage. My point is when someone is being coerced to marry someone without their consent then the Government has the right not to validate that marriage as well as protect the coerced party.

    I am not even trying to imply one cannot marry someone beyond the EU borders. But I am saying no one irrespective of their country of origin should be coerced and forced into marriage. And because those marriages violate basic human rights and laws of the land, the Government should and must intervene and grant protection.

    I am actually arguing for a person’s right to marry as he/she pleases and Government to act when that right is trampled upon by Community.

    Am I missing something?

  25. Priya — on 26th October, 2008 at 6:11 pm  

    Shamit #24: “I am actually arguing for a person’s right to marry as he/she pleases and Government to act when that right is trampled upon by Community.”

    Well said.

    Douglas Clark #23 : “Ashik should grow up and stop defending the indefensible”.

    So should the huge number of other like minded Asians in the UK.

  26. Ashik — on 26th October, 2008 at 6:59 pm  

    I am not defending the indefensible.

    I am merely outlining the specific sensetivities of these communities and the victims themselves which needs to be observed to best help eg. the fact young victims of forced marriage wishing to choose their own partners would nevertheless prefer to continue to live with their parents/siblings if possible. Things aren’t always black and white. This is why mediation by credible intermediaries rather than gung-ho ideological ‘bull in the china shop’ attitudes by outsiders need to be avoided. That’s not to say Non-Asians shouldn’t be concerned as fellow Brit citizens. The majority of such problems are dealt within the community.

    These intermediaries would usually be other family members, religious and community leaders. We need these people ‘on side’ in order to reach those in need in these hard to approach minority communities. We need to build trust. I’m afraid advocating mixed marriages and other alternative lifestyle choices are non-starters for these people we need to work with us. Choice in marriage partners is agreed but not the laissez-faire ‘anything goes’ attitudes to relationships. Risky behaviour in finding a partner is generally frowned upon.

    I fully understand why Shamit and Mixed together would oppose my views. It would rather negate Shamit’s very existance and Mixed Together is possibly in a relationship with an Asian female. But it doesn’t make my position less true amongst South Asians.

    If we are genuinely interested in helping victims of HBV and forced marriages then we should be ready to eschew imperialistic ideology which tends to polarise.

  27. MixTogether — on 26th October, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

    It’s MixTogether mate.

    The only ideology that is really a problem is the ideology of Multiculturalism, where one’s ability to take an objective moral view on a situation is supposedly inhibited by colour and race.

    What a load.

  28. persephone — on 26th October, 2008 at 7:59 pm  

    Douglas @ 23 Where was I stating that the rules should not apply to all? Of course the law applies to all.

    My point is that some asians do not report such abuse, due to the inherent ‘collectivism’ culture.

    Sometimes emotional blackmail is used by the victims own family eg leaving or reporting an abusive partner will tarnish ‘family’ honour and/or affect the victims siblings chances in a future [arranged] marriage or losing connections with theri own family. Added to this other 3rd parties such as religious leaders have similar attitudes or wish to keep anything negative about the community within the fold.

    I am glad that these cases, when reported, are not treated lightly as ‘domestics’ anymore.

    I agree that victims will remain so unless they do something BUT unfortunately not all do due to some of the reasons I have mentioned above. Plus they may also not have the confidence, financial independence to stand up to their family because they have been brought up in a cloistered, controlled way.

    P.S. get some sleep

  29. Priya — on 26th October, 2008 at 9:02 pm  

    Persephone #28:

    “Added to this other 3rd parties such as religious leaders ……wish to keep anything negative about the community within the fold.”

    Unfortunately it’s not JUST religious bigots who want to keep “anything negative about the community within the fold”.

    So many other Asians want to do the same for fear that admitting to white people that forced marriages/domestic violence is a big problem amongst UK Asians would “provide ammo to racists.” This has turned out to be so very convenient to the perpetrators of such behaviour – while this reluctance exists they feel they can keep on behaving as they please.

  30. persephone — on 26th October, 2008 at 10:35 pm  

    Priya @ 29 So where does this lead us to? I count myself lucky in that I was not brought up in such a way so it is easy for me to say the victims must fight back in spite of family/their community obstruction.

    So the question is how do others (who have been brought up in this way) break out of it?

    Will this just happen organically & over a long time as those generations with that mentality (and I refuse to make it respectable by calling it culture) gradually die out?

  31. Shamit — on 27th October, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

    A glance through this thread confrims each and everyone on this thread agrees that HBV and other manifestations of domestic violence is an abomination and needs to be curbed.

    Yet, not unlike many areas of public policy the means to reach the end matters as much as the destination itself. A solution to a social evil cannot be found by creating barriers between different communities and trying to create socio-legal barriers to human interaction.

    Ashik quotes history often — and yet fails to mention history teaches us religion and race have never been that cohesive in keeping peace — a good example the Bangladesh Liberation War.

    And, when it comes to social evolution, taking a rigid stance of – “we should only stick to our race and religion and forbid those who dare to think otherwise” and be in a position to enforce that either through force or other forms of coercion is fascism at its worse.

    Ashik — a point. I am never worried about dogmas and cultural rigidity affecting my existance. But I think what worries you most, is the success my family represents the best of this very idea which you detest. And there are many more success stories. While there are, I am sure, experiences which all ended in tears. But that is life and sometimes life is a harsh journey.

    Tragedies and mistakes are human flaws that exist the world over and there are no guarantees that if I stick to my race and religion community then it won’t happen. So, creating barriers which does not attempt to resolve the issue is just plain spinning to highlight the virtues of an idea, that never really had a shelf life and, now it is definitely past its sell by date.

    The issue is domestic violence and it is a bloody crime. And it needs to be stopped and our communities need to openly stand against this sort of behaviour rather than pushing it under the carpet.

  32. douglas clark — on 27th October, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    persephone @ 28,

    I was drawing your attention to what Ashik had to say and trying – in an obviously cack-handed sort of way -to point out that DV was almost universally hidden under the carpet in the UK not that long ago.

    Sorry if it came across differently.

  33. persephone — on 27th October, 2008 at 7:39 pm  

    Douglas @ 32 No worries

  34. Refresh — on 27th October, 2008 at 7:46 pm  

    ‘under the carpet in the UK not that long ago.’

    And today!

  35. persephone — on 27th October, 2008 at 8:11 pm  

    Yep Refresh & the fact that alot of it is still under the carpet often makes me wonder what the real statistic is as Rumbold’s statistics relate to recorded incidents

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