Monday, March 2, 2009

Genderised anti DV legislation.

The unspoken fact that anti-DV legislation is gender specific is at last being accepted in circles other than men's and fathers groups.

Anyone with an interest in DV would benefit from reading this snippet of a newly published paper.
The full paper can be read at
The author is Stuart Birks of Massey University.
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NZCPR Guest Forum
Stuart Birks -  Director of the Centre for Public Policy Evaluation, Massey

28 February 2009

'Rethinking Stopping Violence Programmes'
On 16 February Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier gave a speech to a hui in which he questioned the value of stopping violence programmes (Boshier, 2009) . He recognises that there are problems with the current "one-size-fits-all" approach of current anti-violence programmes. Some might see this as a significant development. Others will be sceptical. His predecessor, Judge Patrick Mahony, made a point about the complexity and diversity of domestic violence at a Social Policy Forum in 2002, where he said, "I note that although the legislation is gender neutral a lot of the thinking behind the Act was based on what is often called the 'Power and Control Model' developed at a place called Duluth in Massachusetts which is strongly gender based" (Mahony, 2003, p. 8) . He then explained: "Research has identified other forms of domestic violence [besides the Duluth model] strongly interactive, sometimes female initiated, in addition to violence arising out of mental illness, and incidents of violence occurring in the extremely stressful period of separation with no history, and no future risk.

It is important that through evidence, Courts know what they are dealing with in individual cases." (Mahony, 2003, p. 9) Judge Mahony's words of caution appear to have had little impact in the past six years. Now Judge Boshier makes a similar point when he says, "If we accept that family violence - always a choice on the part of the perpetrator - is enormously broad and complex in nature, then consideration of the causes for the violence must surely be relevant to determining how to stop it." Nevertheless, beyond a concern at the lack of evidence about the effectiveness of programmes, Judge Boshier just proposes separate courses for first-time, Maori or Asian offenders, and the opportunity for further, follow-up courses. He makes no attempt to challenge the gendered perspective as a whole, even if he may have some doubts about a particular, dominant gendered model. This might simply be a sign of political realism. He is battling against entrenched attitudes.

 . . . . . . . This gendered interpretation with a heavy emphasis on "power and control" can also be seen in a recent Fact Sheet (New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, 2007) which challenges the studies which find equal levels of violence by men and women (New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse, 2007) . Data on severe violence indicates predominantly male perpetrators, but data used to show large scale prevalence of violence come from these broader studies with gender-balanced results.

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1 comment:

peterquixote said...

we found in the eighties that attacking weak judges was the answer, they wilted.

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