We now live in an age of political correctness where it is
necessary to be part of a protected group in order to obtain help.
These groups include disabled people, ethnic minorities, gay men,
lesbians and women. They have had to fight discrimination in the
past in order to achieve their rights and the authorities now
ignore them at their peril.
But men, particularly young men, do not form part of this protected
group. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the field of family
abuse. Not only is there little help on offer, but the official
view is that men are the main perpetrators and, as such, resources
are directed towards women.
In some sections of the community, any efforts to assist men are
resisted on the grounds that they can look after themselves and
that helping them will diminish the efforts to assist women.
This opinion stems from the Home Office and feeds down through all
statutory and voluntary agencies. Funding is the lifeblood of these
agencies and, by channelling it to women-only initiatives, they
maintain an iron control on their policy of gender apartheid.
In 1996 the Home Office commissioned an extensive survey and found
that one in 25 men and one in 25 women claimed to have been victims
of family abuse. Over a lifetime this increased to one in six men
and one in four women. But although the figures for women were
commented on, those for men were quietly airbrushed out of the
We have had nearly 30 years of propaganda relating to equality
since the inception of the Sex Discrimination Act. For the past 10
months we have had a minister for social exclusion and equality,
Barbara Roche. Her remit is to ensure that the client groups
outlined at the start of this article receive the help that they
rightly need. This seems to be to the exclusion of men.
In the case of family abuse, this will, unfortunately, also exclude
their children but in the frenzy of ensuring that only violent men
are punished it would appear that the child victims of violent
mothers are acceptable casualties.
Family abuse is not just a women’s issue, it is a social issue
affecting men, women and children and needs to be examined in this
Family abuse is a crime and it is a greater crime to brush half of
the problem under the carpet.
Stephen Fitzgerald is national organiser of the ManKind
Initiative, a men’s civil rights charity.