Family Violence Report on Gender Bias Welcomed

Media Release 26 Nov 2014
Family First NZ is welcoming a report which says that blaming men for domestic violence is ‘gender bias’.

“It is time that the focus on family violence was on drugs, alcohol, and family instability rather than the one-eyed approach of men as perpetrators and women and children as victims. The White Ribbon Campaign is well-intentioned, but we need to open both eyes – and present the full picture,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The Family Violence Death Review in 2012 revealed some inconvenient truths – specifically that children were more often killed by their mothers than any other group of suspects, and that family violence death victims were almost evenly proportioned across male and female adults and children.”

“The Families Commission’s 2009 Family Violence Statistics Report revealed that 48% of child abuse – including emotional, physical, neglect, sexual and multiple abuse – was committed by women. Yet the Families Commission also perpetuates the perception that it’s only men.”

“The popular public perception is that women and children need to be protected from men, but this ‘gender’ focus is misleading. If we’re really serious about reducing family violence, we need to talk about family violence, and our violent culture, the breakdown and instability of families, and the role alcohol and drugs play in fuelling this environment,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Prominent New Zealand researcher Professor David Fergusson says “the discovery of domestic violence in the context of the concerns of the Women’s movement has meant that domestic violence has been presented as a gender issue and used as an exemplar of patriarchy and male dominance over women.” He argues we need to broaden our perspective “away from the view that domestic violence is usually a gender issue involving male perpetrators and female victims and toward the view that domestic violence most commonly involves violent couples who engage in mutual acts of aggression.” 

In the UK, data from the Home Office statistical bulletins show that men made up about 40% of domestic violence victims each year between 2005 and 2009. In Australia, it is argued that 1 in 3 victims of domestic violence are men. In the USA, a 2010 report from California State University examined 275 scholarly investigations, 214 empirical studies and 61 reviews and/or analyses with an aggregate sample size exceeding 365,000. It demonstrated that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men. Interestingly, the Family Violence Research Program at the University of New Hampshire found that the overall rates of violence for cohabiting couples was twice as high and the overall rate for “severe” violence was nearly five times as high for cohabiting couples when compared with married couples.

“Perhaps family structure should be the focus rather than gender,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“If we want to tackle family violence, we all – men, women and children – need to pledge to stop violence towards men, women and children. This is a family violence issue – not a gender issue.”