Irish Examiner, 18th March, 2005

Amnesty challenged on domestic violence

Amnesty International spokesman, Jim Loughran, states that "domestic violence is not a woman's issue, it's an issue of human rights" (Ed Carty, Examiner 7th March).

He calls on various Government Departments 'to protect women by providing more services'.

This year Government Departments will provide funding in the region of 15-20 million Euro for violence against women. Perhaps Amnesty would let us know how much is actually required and do they believe, as their campaign implies, that no funding should be provided for male victims.

If the statistics quoted by women's groups are correct this expenditure of taxpayers' money is having no impact in reducing violence in the home.

Have they got it wrong with their current sexist approach?

Their website prominently features the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The approach to domestic violence, supported by Amnesty, is contrary to the spirit of at least seven articles of that Declaration. Their current sexist campaign is contrary to their own mission statement and core values.

All independent studies show that men and women are equally likely to be victims of domestic violence. On Vincent Browne Tonight, Anne Marlborough of Amnesty International said "we shouldn't waste our time talking about male victims of domestic abuse – it is beneath our attention". This anti-man approach continued on the Pat Kenny show, when Amnesty spokesperson, Fiona Crowley, referred to Garda statistics as evidence that men are the main perpetrators. Statistics on reporting are unreliable indicators of the prevalence because men are reluctant to report abuse. Such sexist campaigns create further barriers to men reporting and further isolates and marginalizes them.

Amnesty's claim that one-in-five women is abused by her partner implies that in excess of 2000 members of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, (assuming 50% are male), violently beat their wives/partners – unless, of course, members of Amnesty are more virtuous than the rest of humanity.

Mary T. Cleary
St. Anne's Resource Centre
Railway St
Co. Meath

Society does not have the right to discriminate against
victims of domestic violence because of their gender.