Letter: Misleading figures on domestic abuse

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The Independent Online
From Ms Jo Chilvers

Sir: Oliver Kamm's knowledge of violence against women (Letters, 3 November) appears somewhat limited. For research giving detailed analysis of the issues, including victim perspectives and some support for the "one in four" figure [one woman in four has suffered physical abuse from a male partner], I draw his attention to the work of, among others, Edwards (1989), Stanko (1990), Dobash & Dobash (1992) and Mooney (1993).

Mr Kamm refers to the work of Gelles & Straus in support of his argument. This work has been highly criticised (eg Dobash & Dobash 1992) for its highly suspect methodology which fails to take account of meaning; the intention and perception of both perpetrator and victim. The "50 per cent of violent incidents committed by women" figure cited by Mr Kamm often refers to attempts by women to defend themselves against more aggressive male partners, with the initial "incident" perpetrated by a man - as evidence from injury rates and levels will confirm.

In choosing to focus on that one body of work, Mr Kamm may have given the impression that violence within heterosexual relationships is committed by men and women in equal proportion. A more balanced look at the wealth of available research on the subject will uphold the more accepted view that such violence within relationships remains overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.

Yours faithfully,

Jo Chilvers



8 November