Wife-beaters 'should be treated like paedophiles'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Men who beat their partners should be treated as pariahs by society in the same way as paedophiles if the rise in domestic violence is to be ended, an MP said yesterday.

Men who beat their partners should be treated as pariahs by society in the same way as paedophiles if the rise in domestic violence is to be ended, an MP said yesterday.

Anthony Steen, the Tory MP for Totnes, said police should be better trained to deal with the 570,000 calls a year from victims of home violence. And victims should be able to give videotaped evidence instead of suffering the ordeal of confronting a violent partner or ex-partner across a courtroom with the risk of later reprisals, he said.

The Crown Prosecution Service should automatically take the lead and bring prosecutions and should not expect victims to prosecute.

"In any civilised society, absolutely nobody has the right to knock the living daylights out of anyone else," he said.

The British Crime Survey shows the biggest category of assaults involves domestic violence, 80 per cent against women. Mr Steen said the problem of domestic violence was a "huge one and a hidden one".

He added: "Some victims are raped, some stabbed, somekicked while pregnant, some left with cuts and bleeding and, in one instance, a victim's throat was slashed with a razor blade. Four out of five calls are from women who have been attacked by men. Only one in 10 were from men who've been attacked by women.

"One person is assaulted in their home every 20 seconds. The greatest risk are those aged under 25 and in financial difficulty. The risks are highest for women separated from their spouse."

Mr Steen said women often put up with domestic violence, hoping their partner would change or that they could change them. "Unfortunately, matters always get worse. Statistics show it is not until they have been physically abused some 30 to 35 times that women take action," he said.

In 1996 nearly half of the 224 female homicide victims were killed by their partners. Of 426 male homicide victims, only 8 per cent were killed by partners. Three women a week are killed by former or current partners.

Mr Steen said: "We need to lift the lid on this horror story. Perpetrators of domestic violence must pay, just as child abusers and paedophiles are now recognised as pariahs of society, so they must be exposed for the monsters they truly are.

"A change in public attitude is urgently needed."

Comments