Why female violence against men is society’s last great taboo | The Telegraph (UK)

March 16, 2016

By Martin Daubney

It’s time for us to face up to an ugly truth: it’s not just men who can be murderers and violent, abusive attackers of the opposite sex.

This was brought into grim focus last week with the horrific case of Sharon Edwards, 42, who brutally murdered her husband, David, 51, by stabbing a 13-inch carving knife through his heart.

A serial man-abuser, Mrs Edwards inflicted 60 stabbing and prodding wounds to her husband. While in court, Sharon brazenly lied that David “walked into” the knife. She is currently serving at least 20 years in jail for murder.

You could argue, or pray, that Sharon Edwards is a monstrous one-off. Yet cases of female brutality against men – and other women – seem to be becoming more prevalent.

Women murdering men is still mercifully rare. In 2014/15, 19 men died at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, compared with 81 women. However, the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has more than quadrupled in the past ten years, from 806 in 2004/05 to 4,866  in 2014/15.

Male domestic violence charity The ManKind Initiative say that for every three victims of partner abuse, two will be female and one will be male. According to the Office for National Statistics, 2.8 per cent of men – 500,000 individuals – suffered partner abuse in 2014/15.

While it’s important to state that more women than men suffer domestic abuse in Britain (4.5m women versus 2.2m men over the age of 16, according to the ONS), there remains a theory that men under report their experiences due to a culture of masculine expectations. 

Staggeringly, a recent report from liberal Canada, where men are encouraged to talk about their feelings, showed that men are more likely to suffer spousal violence, with 342,000 women and 418,000 men suffering abuse in the preceding five years to 2014.

Could the same be true in other countries – like the UK? It’s possible: the ManKind Initiative say only 10 per cent of male victims will tell the police, as opposed to 26 per cent of women.

What’s more, violence against men by women isn’t limited to partner abuse.

Last September, Sarah Sands stabbed her neighbour, Michael Pleasted, 77, to death after learning he had 24 previous convictions for sex offences against minors. Despite committing a “frenzied attack”, she was sentenced to only three and a half years for manslaughter. 

Last July, Tom Borwick, 27, the son of a Tory MP, was viciously beaten and left unconscious by a “girl gang” in a Leicester Square KFC. Then, to add insult to his serious injuries, he was ejected by security who refused to help him.

In January, Shadiya Omar was given a suspended prison sentence after she stabbed Justin Lloyd, also 22, in the eye with her stiletto shoe after a bust-up in a Manchester taxi queue. Hundreds blasted the lenient sentence as “a joke,” pointing out Omar would surely have been jailed if she were a man.

Such stories shatter the false narratives that only women get battered, that men are never victims, and that women never attack.

But politically the system is stacked against men. While ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) has rightly been a governmental priority, there is not only no specific strategy to end violence against men. Attempts to modify the VAWG strategy to include male victims have been actively resisted.

As a direct consequence, while last week Nicky Morgan pledged another £80 million to end VAWG, the ManKind Initiative – one of only two UK charities that specifically helps male victims of domestic violence – will close its helpline in May as it couldn’t raise a comparatively modest £45,000.

By so clearly intimating that victims don’t matter if they are men, it can only further add to male victims’ reluctance to come forward.

We should unite in condemning all perpetrators of partner abuse, men and women, and treat all victims, men and women, with equal compassion.

Mark Brooks, Chairman of the ManKind Initiative, says: “Domestic abuse is a crime against an individual, not a crime against a gender. Those that hold that view are clinging to an old-fashioned, politically correct view of the world that has no place in the 21st century when equality for all victims solely based on need has to be the answer.

“Taking a gendered approach to domestic abuse is only acceptable when both genders are included”.

We desperately need to de-gender the domestic violence debate to help smash society’s last great taboo: female violence against men.

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