02 December 2004

S2M-2055 Domestic Abuse Services

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 2 December 2004

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

… … …

Domestic Abuse Services

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S2M-2055, in the name of Mike Rumbles, on domestic abuse services for all victims.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises the very serious and totally unacceptable problem of domestic violence in Scottish society; notes in particular that all victims, whether they be women, men or children, need to be supported, and therefore considers that the Scottish Executive should provide practical help and assistance to all such victims.


… … …


Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I find myself in a rather curious position, not because of my solitary presence on the SNP benches—a by-election is attracting the attention of many of my colleagues who are elsewhere—but because I find myself wanting to stand and defend the Executive against someone who has risen frequently to defend it, but who on this occasion, in the deployment of his argument and in his speech, is in essence attacking it.

We will not be voting on the motion, but we would find it easy to vote for if we were—indeed a number of my colleagues have signed it—because its terms are fair and proper. However, the picture that Mike Rumbles paints for us is one of a new Boudicca coming across the horizon with the scimitars attached to the wheels of her chariot to cut the legs off any man foolish enough to stand in her way.

Of course I accept that the test of a real civilisation is not how it treats its majority—although it must respect and respond to the wishes of the majority—but how it supports and respects the rights of minorities. I am far from convinced that there is merit in Mike Rumbles's case. He has to acknowledge that he is talking about a significantly small minority and he is doing his case no justice with his rather spurious manipulation of statistics, based on small percentages, from which it is unwise to extrapolate.

Mike Rumbles: Will the member give way?

Stewart Stevenson: I really do not have time.

Before coming to the chamber, I put two phrases into the Google search engine to get a feel for the issue. I put in "female violence against men" and "male violence against women". The hits were 98 per cent for "male violence against women" and 2 per cent for "female violence against men". Of course that does not tell us about the incidence of the violence, but it does tell us how big a problem it is perceived to be by the people who are engaged in that technology, who are predominantly men. The oldest paper that I could find on female violence against men dates from 1975. It is not as if the issue has surfaced suddenly; it has been around for 30 years, but it has yet to make the kind of impact that, quite properly, male violence against women has made.

The figures that the Executive uses in its papers suggest that there are more than 10 times as many victims recorded where the perpetrator is male than there are where the perpetrator is female. That gives us the scale. It takes nothing away from men to support women.

Mike Rumbles made a rather curious argument, which I suspect the minister will address. He appeared to suggest that even though the Executive provided a grant for one purpose—protecting women—it would be okay to pretend in a Nelsonian manner that we were not seeing that it was being misused for other purposes. It is vital that we ensure that there is support for all people affected by domestic violence—women, children and men—but men are not being neglected just because we are giving women the support that they deserve and need.


Stewart Stevenson
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