Domestic violence

Anita Roddick's remarks are phrased exclusively in terms of men-on-women violence
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The Independent Online

Sir: Anita Roddick apparently believes that, in a just cause, any amount of spin is justified ("None of us can afford to ignore domestic violence", 19 September).

I agree her cause is just, but all the emotive remarks that she makes are phrased exclusively in terms of men-on-women violence. Yet she deploys the statistic that four out of ten people say that they have witnessed a "person" being "verbally or physically abused by their partner in a social situation." By what criteria of independence did you examine her claims that one in nine women in the UK are severely beaten each year? When she says that one in four women are abused in their lifetime, is she still referring to being severely beaten or are we now including all verbal abuse? Spicing up a case with figures from battered women's groups paints a picture of millions of guilty men.

Using a 1999 Home Office self-completion questionnaire, 4.2 per cent of women and 4.2 per cent of men reported some form of assault from their partner in a year. Those that caused any injury, even slight, were reported by 2.2 per cent of women and 1.1 per cent of men. The more severe cases have a heavier male-inflicted bias, but they are much rarer still. So Ms Roddick's one in nine women each year receiving severe injuries is untrue.

The violence she campaigns about is appalling but the attitude, in reporting it, of "my sex, right or wrong", causes real damage. In family courts, any accusation of domestic violence, however mutual, unsubstantiated or opportunistically timed, warrants a separating mother indefinite peace. I invite Ms Roddick to join me in my voluntary work with Families Need Fathers for the thousands of children legally kept incommunicado from all their paternal relatives, male or female.

Tunbridge Wells, Kent