There are many tales of woe on this blog about how the law treats families. But however bad things are over here, it could be worse. This article about a frankly horrendous state of affairs in the US is an upsetting reminder of that very point. It strikes me that any pregnant 15 year old with a cocaine habit has probably already been failed by her own parents and deserves some help rather than prosecution for the “depraved heart murder” of her foetus, stillborn at 36 weeks. However wrong we get it, somewhere else can create an even more warped and wrongheaded system.

One attempt at improving things for women is the so-called Clare’s Law, which involves a proposal to inform women of their new partner’s violent past. On one level this sounds like a good idea, but the parallel with Sarah’s Law makes me twitchy, and I wonder if this relies upon a slightly simplistic understanding of how vulnerable women get themselves into abusive relationships, and the difficulties they often face extracting themselves from those relationships and in picking better next time around.


3 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Clare’s Law entirely forgets that nearly half the victims of serious injuries by DV are men. That father victims are in an impossible situation relative to mother victimes, as female perpetrators of DV are generally not taken seriously by the Police or the Courts.

    As far more children are killed by their mothers (as mothers killed by DV) are we going to see a Children’s (Baby P) Law where prospective mothers (and fathers) are subject to a similar proposal?

    ‘Domestic violence currently claims 104 lives a year, 83 women and 21 men’

    1.6 women killed each week
    0.4 men killed each week

    Title: Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey

    The BCS estimates that 13% of women and 9% of men had been subject to domestic violence (abuse, threats or force), sexual victimisation or stalking in the twelve months prior to interview.

    ‘Of 24,000 partners who suffered serious wounding with a weapon, 11,000 were men.’

    In other words, 45.8% were men, and 54.2% were women.

    60% (women) said it was acceptable for women to hit their husbands while 35% admitted assaulting their partner.

    Many male victims fear they will not be taken seriously

    Home Office research: Understanding the sentencing of women

    “A superficial examination of the criminal statistics suggests that, for virtually every type of offence, women are treated more leniently than men.”

    ” Conclusion. This study reveals major differences in the use of noncustodial penalties for men and women. Women were consistently more likely than men to be discharged even when their circumstances appeared, on the basis of the available data, entirely comparable. ”

    ‘Three children a week – the death toll from abuse

    Ofsted chief reveals shocking scale of problem in evidence to MPs

    The true scale of child abuse in the UK was revealed yesterday when Christine Gilbert, the chief executive of the children’s services watchdog, told MPs that three children a week died as a result of abuse – more than triple the previous estimate.

    Figures showed that 210 cases of children dying from abuse or neglect had been reported by local authorities in the 16 months between April 2007 (when Ofsted took over responsibility for inspecting all children’s services) and August 2008.

    She told a hearing of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families that Ofsted had investigated 282 cases of child deaths brought to its attention during that period – and found most were a result of abuse. The remainder, 72, had died of other causes such as road accidents…………………………………………………………………………..
    Earlier figures had suggested that about one child a week died as a result of child abuse, but the NSPCC admitted its figures could be an underestimate as they relied solely on official recordings of cases of homicide.’

    US Child Fatalities 2004 total 981

    Mother was the killer or involved in 63.3% of all child deaths

    Father was the killer or involved in 38.3% of all child deaths

    Mother Only 31.3%

    Father Only 14.4%

    Perpetrators of Maltreatment

    Approximately two-fifths (38.8%) of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone;

    another 18.3 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone.

  2. As someone who was in an abusive relationship for 3 years, I’m pretty certain a Clare’s Law wouldn’t work.

    How are the Police going to reach the 90% of women who never hit the radar of any agencies?

    By the time a woman comes to the attention of the Police, she’s typically too brainwashed to be able to leave immediately, even if she wants to.

    Most of us believe the charmers when they claim it’s the first time/only time they’ve ever been violent. Very few women in abusive relationships go to the police or other agencies the first time they are threatened or beaten. Even if they do, what are their choices if they are informed of his past? How many have the wherewithal to get their own accomodation at short notice? Are they supposed to be stuck in a holding pattern waiting to see if the room in the refuge is available faster than they can save deposit + bond + rent on shared accommodation somewhere? What are they supposed to do in the meantime?

    We surely can’t be suggesting a situation where there’s a queue of single women at the external police phone for any given station, trying to find out whether the guy who’s just clocked them during a night out together is prone to doing this on a regular basis?

  3. I’m sorry to disabuse you Familoo and posters, all we have came from America, our system is a model of the US. system, and every craze that started there is duplicated here. The only homegrowm British one is MSBP, an original british invention and export, we can be certain it will be being suggested soon we should have these two laws over here.

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