I think, or at least I hope, that most of us would agree that violence toward others is at best unpleasant and regrettable, and at worst illegal or repulsive.
We know that the capacity for violent action lies within all of us, and we accept that, under extreme duress or pressure, violent behaviour may occur, but overall we feel that such actions could and should be avoided.
Yet how many of us equally apply such values to women AND men, and if, as individuals, we were granted access to our partners, or prospective partners background history and criminal record, would we always handle such information with the care that such a record might need?
A new law has been passed in England and Wales called Clares Law or the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme. There are many legal safe safeguards as regards the application of this scheme/law, but in essence it allows individuals to check the police record of their partners, throughout England and Wales.
At first glance that would seem to be fine, but almost immediately problems emerge.
To begin with look at how the areas has been covered by the media, both in the news papers and online. Some sources correctly point out that anyone, regardless of sex, can potentially access such information, but other papers, including respected broadsheets, are not so careful, They report that women, in as relationship, can apply; but there is no mention of men.
Lazy stereotyping, I hear some voices calling, or lazy reporting; but aren’t many of us being a little unfair. Are we so free of such accusations?How many of us accept that both sexes have a right to justice, and to be heard. What would we do with such a disclosure, and, even more worryingly, how much time would we take to really find out what had been going on?
To illustrate my point I would ask you to first consider a case that happened one or two years ago. Two individuals struck up a relationship which they thought would work out to the full. A child was conceived, but over time tensions grew between both adults, culminating in a case of domestic violence by the man. Never put a hand on a woman, that was the perceived wisdom at the time of the incident, and although no prosecution occurred his name and reputation, in our fairly small community, as well as access to his child, was irrevocably undermined.
That seems quite straightforward, now doesn’t it, but I have the pleasure of knowing the gentleman in question, and though he is no saint, he’s also no devil either; and therefore I am loathe to condemn. Did he put his hand on his partner, yes, was he open about such an admission, yes; and does he regret his actions?Oh most certainly. However there are a couple of elements that at least muddy the waters. He had a passive/assertive anger management issue within him, and the lady in question knew exactly which of his “buttons to press” so as to alleviate her anger in return. When I heard about the events I surprised him slightly, as I would neither condemn what had happened or condone, as, to use my own words;
“Only you and your partner knows what happened, and only the two of you know the causes. as such neither myself or anybody else around you can condemn or condone”
I am pleased to say that much progress has occurred between the couple, and though not together, they are doing the best for their child; but how many people would be as reticent about giving forth judgement, and if the details of the case came before them, how may people would be prepared to fairly hear both sides?
Very few I suggest. When a case arises who gets the blame. We may know that the ratio of domestic violence offences between men and women is 60/40, but how many of us bother to find out who is really responsible, and what else lies in the background to cause such pain?
In the post The Right to Know (1) I queried the wisdom of making such data available, and I can only repeat such reservations here. I am not saying that domestic violence is acceptable, and I am certainly not saying that such cases should be ignored, but I fear I cannot trust society to use such data properly.
Once a reputation is destroyed there is often little chance of redemption, and if we cannot give a guarantee, for good or wise usage and subsequent behaviour, then, regrettably, I feel that such information should be securely locked away
part 3, on alcohol monitoring in the workplace will be along soon
- Clare’s Law to get nationwide roll-out in a bid to reduce domestic violence (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
- Convening of a National Domestic Violence Oversight Committee urgently needed (kaieteurnewsonline.com)
- ‘Clare’s Law’ allowing women to check police records of new partners to cover all of England and Wales (metro.co.uk)
- Clare’s Law: the domestic violence disclosure scheme (kareningalasmith.com)