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Guest blog: Jon Cruddas, on men's role in ending violence against women

(74 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 01-Mar-13 08:12:52

This week's guest blog is by Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham. He's writing about violence against women and girls - and what government, society, and men themselves can do to stop it.

Do have a look, and tell us what you think of his assessment of the issues, and the plans he outlines. Are his proposals a step in the right direction? If not, what do you think can be done to make violence against women and girls culturally and socially unacceptable?

If you post on this topic, don't forget to add your URL to the thread.

mydoorisalwaysopen Fri 01-Mar-13 13:21:25

Support the intiative for the opt-in option for on-line pornography and make it happen. Opt-out is pathetic and useless.

Sarich Fri 01-Mar-13 13:57:25

There are basic things that need to change but the government is dragging its feet. Giving men free access to women and children’s bodies in single sex toilets changing rooms without their choice and consent effectively perpetuates male dominance over women and effectively subverts the principles underpinning the entire equality and human rights legislation. A recent anonymous on line toilet survey (Bedfordshire Race & Equality Council) demonstrates that 1:3 people are put off using a single sex designated multi cubical toilet/urinal if they are serviced by opposite sex personnel. Permanent warning signs (and flimsy access policies eg calling, knocking) are depriving users of the choice for same sex privacy and a chance to object to an opposite sex worker, but are being used to gain implied consent for male and female workers to be used interchangeably while people, including under age children, young girls are using the facility and boys may be exposed at a urinal/trough.

Toilets are no longer single sex because employers are failing to use same sex operatives when it is proportionate and legitimate to do so, nor implementing robust alternatives to a gender based policy which gives users a choice to use a facility with same sex privacy when they need to. This means a child can find themselves on their own with an opposite sex worker who is not even required to be CRB checked because their job is not considered to involve working with children.

Anyone who complains is falsely informed that this is a necessary requirement of the equality act and it is 'discrimination' against the worker to object- In fact the employer is discriminating against the service users to cut their cleaning costs. The Equality & Human Rights Commission insist hardly anyone is complaining about this and they cannot tell employers what to do! So the public are being hoodwinked into putting up with this indignity which is a clear safeguarding concern and means that anyone with a history of sexual abuse may feel too compromised to use the facility.

Sex segregation has its problems but in our increasingly pornographic society where sex abuse scandals emerge daily perhaps there is still an argument that single sex services are needed now more than ever. If so they should be what they say they are ie single sex to include the staff when the facilities are open to users. Otherwise, If cleaning costs are to be cut this can only safely be achieved by suitably converting existing facilities to a fully enclosed unisex design, opening to a communal outside area, not by exploiting female staff by expecting them to clean around urinating men, and putting children and the public at risk of both physical and psychological harm by undignified practices which effectively legalize perversions such as voyeurism, indecent exposure and paedophilia.
Whilst appearing trivial at first, this has fundamental implications to the successful implementation of equality legislation and safety of women and children but clearly will not be stopped unless enough people complain.

SageBush Fri 01-Mar-13 14:29:26

Very well said, Sarich and mydoorisalwaysopen - I wholeheartedly agree with both your suggestions.

soroptimist Fri 01-Mar-13 16:34:42

John, well done on taking a lead on this. However, there is something vital you do not cover in your blog, which you should be raising tomorrow, and that is the role played by alcohol in domestic violence. Some estimates put this at as high as 75% of cases. I am an academic at the Institute of Psychiatry, and if you want to know the figures/get the references, please message me through the mumsnet site. I did blog about this recently when the crime figures came out for England and Wales -

olgaga Fri 01-Mar-13 16:49:00

Jon, you cannot hope to change society unless you change conditions for women and children in their own homes. Domestic violence and abuse needs to be taken much more seriously by police and justice system, and in particular the Family Courts, which seem to turn a blind eye in so many cases.

I would ask Jon to read this report by Rights of Women, and also take a look at the Maypole website.

Abitwobblynow Fri 01-Mar-13 16:53:27

1. more single sex schools

2. charging men who use foreign sex workers with rape (because they should know about sex trafficking - thank you Dennis McShane!

3. really having a campaign against porn.

4. stop using alcohol as an excuse in domestic violence. Please read Lundy Bancroft. It should NOT be a mitigating factor, sentences should be increased if alcohol is involved so that excuse is rapidly dropped

TheOriginalLadyFT Fri 01-Mar-13 17:04:06

Frankly, it's not just extreme pornography which is the problem - to me, the casual use of sexualised images of women in almost every area of life is worse. In that way, sexualisation of women is normalised, and that seems to me to be the root of many issues around violence against women.

I'm more worried about my 11yo DS seeing half naked images of women on the front of dozens of magazines in WH Smith, in music videos and newspapers (and yes, let's get rid of page 3) than him potentially seeing violent pornography

StephanieDA Fri 01-Mar-13 17:25:54

Thank you Jon for taking action on a subject which politicians too often seem to think of as marginal. I would like to ask that legislation is tightened around the degrading images of women freely displayed in the tabloid press, and that this issue is no longer seen as frivolous or irrelevant.

These newspapers give men explicit permission to view women as sexually available commodities. Page 3 images are discriminatory and intimidating to wives and partners and a readily-available means of sexual humiliation and harassment for abusive men. Dehumanising women makes it harder to respect women, and easier to abuse them.

It is more difficult to teach boys to respect girls if they see that mainstream culture does not. In that sense I feel that sexually-objectified images of teenagers and young women in a daily newspaper can be more harmful than online pornography, in that it is normalised and constitutes a daily drip-drip of conditioning in misogyny which is largely unconscious. The danger for young girls is self-objectification and the psychological harm that causes.

Legislation exists banning topless calendars in the workplace to protect women from what is recognised in law as a form of sexual harrassment, and yet we allow this form of sexual harrassment into the public space and into the homes of women and children through a 'family newspaper'. The tabloid press also displays degrading images of women on the front cover, and these newspapers are displayed at children's eye-level. Respect for women cannot become a reality while our culture condones this.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 01-Mar-13 17:26:51

What are the criteria under which women fleeing emotional and physical domestic abuse will still get legal aid?

Writehand Fri 01-Mar-13 18:17:33

Violence against trafficked women and sex workers is another big problem. The Swedish line on prostitution and sex trafficking is admirable and has been successful.

In Sweden it's the customer who's committed an offence, not the seller. This puts trafficked women in a much better position: they're not offenders, it's the men who use them who can be jailed and who need to fear the police.

Link to a good CNN article here.

On a more general note, the victims of domestic violence are -- obviously -- victims not abusers but I don't think there's enough publicity or education alerting parents that even if they're the ones being hit they have a responsibility for what they tolerate and that their children will almost certainly copy what they see at home. It's not good or healthy to accept abuse and letting your kids witness it makes you, at least on some level, responsible.

I know people myself who think they're doing the right thing in keeping their family together in the face of regular beatings, but I feel very strongly that if a woman doesn't leave she is teaching her kids by example that violence in families is OK. Doesn't matter what you say. Matters what you do.

If a man hit me I would split up with him. I would never let my children see me tolerate abuse.

DoeEyedBeauties Fri 01-Mar-13 19:29:25

I wonder though, how can the government make the abused woman feel like she deserves better? Somewhere along the way, that woman was taught that the abusive man was as good as she could get, usually in her own family (i.e. daddy never loved me). How could we get dead beat dads more involved with their children? Is this something the government could even tackle? How does the cycle get broken? Parenting classes in school?

Hissy Fri 01-Mar-13 20:24:15

MORE single sex schools?

That is beyond idiotic! Segregation doesn't work in countries where sexes are told to avoid one another. It makes sexism, and harassment WORSE.

EDUCATION is the key here, instilling equality and respect from day ONE in the education system. Ensuring that both genders are able to live and work side by side with proper respectful relationships.

I have long held that books by people like Lundy Bancroft and Sandra Horley ought to be read and taught in schools. Serious work needs to be done on our children's self esteem, and encouraging both sexes to view the other as different, but equal.

We need to tackle the habitual and everyday sexism in the media, end soft porn in daily newspapers and remove porn from publicly visible magazine shelves.

We need to show our children that EVERYONE is valued, and that we DO matter.

My DS is the product of an abusive relationship and has issues with confidence and socialisation. His school has set up a Talkabout group which deals with bolstering and discussing issues, uses mentors and invites different children to participate. Some of these children are chosen because they have great skills in confidence and self esteem and are used to kind of demonstrate their way of thinking as a way to show those that do struggle that there is another way.

DS is 7, and in the few months he has been doing his, he has improved greatly, it's a FAB scheme and one that ought to be part of the Key Stage Curriculum and above to be honest.

Education not segregation.

Hissy Fri 01-Mar-13 20:38:04

Domestic violence starts in our childhood.

We are raised by parents that treat us badly, neglect us mentally, physically, emotionally. We have over critical parents that show us that we are not good enough. This means that we have a self esteem that is lower, and our expectations are that we won't be successful, that so-and-so won't like us.

We repeat the example we are set by our parents.

THIS is why staying with an abuser for the sake of the kids is the worst possible thing anyone can do. they will grow up thinking it's normal.

We need to start somewhere, so starting by teaching children that abuse is wrong, and starting the discussion of how men treat women/women treat men, what is and is not acceptable needs to start in school.

support will be needed for those growing up in situations where there is power imbalance. They need to know that if they can't help their parent(s), they still have to understand that they don't need to live like that.

The symptoms of abuse are clear and palpable in children, our schools need to be taught to see them and quietly support those showing signs of distress:

Signs & Symptoms

From a Child's Perspective

Children communicate their distress in many different ways. Often the way in which children express their distress is closely linked to their stage of developmental. General guidelines when considering the traumatic reactions of children at different developmental stages include the following:


Infants depend on adults to look after them. They sense the emotions of their caregiver and respond accordingly. If the adult is calm and responsive and is able to maintain their daily routine, the child will feel secure and symptoms will be minimized. If the adult is anxious and overwhelmed, the infant will feel unprotected and may display a variety of symptoms, including:

Sleep problems
Disruptions in eating
Lethargy and unresponsiveness

At this age children begin to interact with the broader physical and social environment. As with infants, toddlers depend on adults to look after them and will respond to traumatic situations as well or as poorly as their adult caretakers. Common reactions in toddlers include:

Sleep problems
Disruptions in eating
Increased tantrums
Toileting problems (e.g. wetting him/herself)
Increased clinging to caretaker
Preschool Children

Children at this age my have more social interactions outside of the family. Their language, play, social and physical skills are more advanced. With these skills, they are more capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings, particularly following a traumatic event. Common responses include:

Sleep problems
Disruptions in eating
Increased tantrums
Irritability and frustration
Difficulty separating from caretakers
Preoccupation with traumatic events
School-Age Children

Children at this age are more independent, are better able to talk about their thoughts and feelings, and are engaged in friendships and participation in group activities. They also possess better skills to cope with challenges or difficulties. When confronted with a traumatic event, school-age children may exhibit the following symptoms:

Sleep problems
Disruptions in eating
Difficulty separating from caretakers
Preoccupation with details of traumatic event
Anxiety and aggression
School difficulties
Problems with attention and hyperactivity

Adolescence is a time during which youth may feel out of control due to the physical changes that are occurring to their bodies. They experience struggles to become independent from their families and rely more heavily on relationships with peers and teachers. They may show a tendency to deny or exaggerate what happens around them and to feel that they are invincible. When exposed to a traumatic event, adolescents may show the following symptoms:

Sleep problems
Preoccupation with details of traumatic event
Anxiety and aggression
School difficulties
Unrealistic sense of power
Difficulties with relationships

Thank you for tackling this issue.

What is needed is for men, all decent men, individually, to stand up against rape culture, porn culture and violent culture.

That means YOU, when you are down the pub with your mates and someone tells a rape joke or a DV joke or shows a bit of porn on their phone, or you see your mate harrassing a woman or your mate makes a comment about a woman 'asking for it' or 'needing a slap', or your mate says 'all men watch porn' or he invites you to a strip club or a lap dancing club or a brothel or a massage parlour ... you speak out and you say that's not OK and that women are actual human beings and are as deserving of respect as every one of your mates.

What is needed is for you to believe women when they say they have been raped or assaulted or are being abused and to be willing to talk about it and offer whatever help you can.

It's all very easy to sign an online pledge, it takes a bit more courage to stand up to your mates and risk losing a bit of face for not being one of the lads. Not nearly as much courage as it takes to face each day if you're a woman who's on the receiving end of male violence, though, so grow a pair smile

Online porn filtering ... I am so fucking tired of this discussion. I'd love it if it was possible, I don't believe it is and I believe it will leave children more vulnerable. There have been numerous threads on this. I'll have a trawl and c&p a couple of the most useful posts tomorrow.

What is needed is regular, ongoing education for parents - they need to know what is out there, how to install, configure and maintain the actually quite decent filtering software that is already available and how to talk to their DC about what they might encounter because something will inevitably slip through or be emailed to them by their classmate whose parents don't give a shit. Do not underestimate how much this will cost if you genuinely care about these issues.

IlianaDupree Fri 01-Mar-13 21:19:23

You won't like what I have to say. Horrific violence against women/children has been happening long before internet porn

Brief version of my story:

A boy was raped by a catholic priest, boy grew up, boy raped little girls, I was one

Anything that needs to happen needs to start at the top down. Deal with abuse in the church, deal with abuse in government. YOU at the top take responsibilty for the legacy that has been left behind

We at the bottom do everything we can and are blocked at every turn

IlianaDupree Fri 01-Mar-13 21:27:02

#remembertheyarechildren why is this even needed??

Why do COURTS not recognise innocent victims??

Why do police struggle to get convictions?? my local police are trying to jail a peadophile who has abused 2 kids that are known, they are fighting a losing battle.

Locally to me an historic child abuse case has been dropped before investigation, WHY??

Police have recently arrested a violent rapist, the only conviction they could get through court? drugs!

Look in the mirror, not at us.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 01-Mar-13 21:28:30

Good post Plenty.

aufaniae Fri 01-Mar-13 21:57:46

"Support the intiative for the opt-in option for on-line pornography and make it happen. Opt-out is pathetic and useless."

Sadly there is no workable way to create an opt-in for pornography, without massively changing the nature of the internet, and restricting access to sites such as Mumsnet and educational websites along with the porn. And there will be 101 ways to circumvent any blanket ban anyway (which the DCs will know about way before us!)

It's all very well saying people should support an opt-in option, but a workable model for this simply does not exist. Anyone who says it is possible either does not understand the issues or has some kind of vested interest (either profit or political advantage) in advocating opt-in, despite it being totally impractical in reality.

HilaryBurrage Fri 01-Mar-13 22:35:07

Many really important points in this discussion and Jon Cruddas' original contribution. We can learn a lot.

Might I however remind everyone of a really awful example of male domination? It may be women who mostly do it, but FGM (female genital mutilation) is a direct consequence of patriarchy - women are 'worth' almost nothing in some places unless they are cut.

It hardly bears thinking about, but this is a tragic reality, 'even' in Britain today, where over 20,000 girls and babies are thought to be at serious risk annually..... Yes, TWENTY THOUSAND, here in the UK every year.

I've just written a piece on this:

I truly believe that one way 'the men' can take massive steps towards getting rid of this horror is to insist on spending realistic amounts of money on eradication programmes AND on the proper education of girls for future adult independence.... Money talks; it has real influence on action.

And of course men must be saying, repeatedly and everywhere, FGM is a very grim, cruel and criminal act; no decent man would ever want to be party to it in any way.

Just as in all other forms of domestic and gender violence, men's silence amounts in effect to acquiescence.

Jon and others, would you agree with my analysis?

Hilary #NoFGM

PS If you want to support our efforts to Stop FGM in the UK, please sign here:

Smudging Fri 01-Mar-13 22:49:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HilaryBurrage Fri 01-Mar-13 22:57:08

Spot on, Smudging, thx.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 01-Mar-13 23:04:49

There was a great poster on Education who ran some ace sex education programmes that covered true consent ie enthusiastic participation type standards. I can't remember her name though but I think that's a good addition to the important educational items the two PPs have raised.

HilaryBurrage Fri 01-Mar-13 23:14:34

Indeed. PSHE, inc SexEd, is critical - but, like much else, in some respects under threat. Here's a bit of background to the debate thus far:
One interesting thing is the way that issues like consent have come to the fore, as we realise more specifically how important this is.
I'd guess that's one reason that more people are now comfortable(ish) to report inappropriate behaviour: they actually 'know' it's not OK - and that's both women and men, who know it.

Sausageeggbacon Sat 02-Mar-13 08:21:16

Tackling DV needs more support for the emotional abuse aspect. Physical violence is clear, emotional abuse is just as bad and leave emotional scars that take year to recover from if ever.

Having seen the ONS Home office figures for DV 2m victims is 2m too many and we need harsh sentences for any man (or woman) who commits these acts. More needs to be done to help victims in practical terms, I have a friend who was only moved and name changed after her ex partner was caught with a baseball bat trying to break in and kill her. And that man still walks free.

1) make it illegal and heavily sanction 'buying' sex. decriminalise the victims and prosecute the perps - pimps and johns.

2) the pornography issue has to be tackled. violent, demeaning, abusive porn is the mainstream now and one click away for free for any internet user.

3) get rid of page 3, get rid of half naked women on the covers on magazines, do something about the constant sexual objectification of women.

4) ban airbrushing - it makes women into 'things' - plastic dollies for fucking and hurting who have no real flesh or vulnerability.

5) hand out decent sentences to rapists and child abusers.

6) uphold the age of consent PROPERLY. we need to recognise this as statutory rape and hand out tough sentences to those who have sex with children instead of fucked up judges saying 'well she was willing' about even 9 year olds. we need to publicly dismiss several judges whose judgements and statements have been literally appalling.

7) force facebook and other social networking sites to take seriously images and pages depicting sexual violence against women, sexualising children ('teen sluts' etc) and to remove such content and ban users rather than saying oh it's humour and we dont' believe in censorship. apply the same attitudes to misogyny as we do to racism.

etc etc etc etc we could go on and on and on.

and yes it's good you acknowledged this is a 'male' problem but then all the women and men must work together seemed to undermine that. and government can do more than 'a bit'. we wouldn't have gotten to where we are today with racism if the government had only done 'a bit'.

Abitwobblynow Sat 02-Mar-13 08:55:58

Hissy: before making sweeping statements, do a bit of research. What is the most vulnerable period in human development? ADOLESCENCE. We need to believe our teenagers' posturing of adulthood less, and protect them from themselves and eachother (peer group pressure) more.

Assumptions! Just because the progressives of the 60s decreed that mixed schooling was good, does this make it an inherent good???

Open you mind and do a bit of reading before you speak. Read Dr Leonard Saxs on gender development.

Then you can say something useful.

I tend to agree with Hissy

aufaniae Sat 02-Mar-13 09:18:28

I agree totally that we need to educate DCs and teenagers about what makes a healthy and unhealthy relationship, and for more support to be available.

I've only realised since being on mumsnet how many abusers follow "the script", and just how prevalent it is. I was in an abusive relationship myself before. Would I have got out sooner if I'd already been familiar with "the script", better able to recognise the abuse early on and have known where to get help? Possibly. I missed several red flags and didn't recognise the abuse for what it was until I was in really deep, and by that point it was hard to get out. (I did eventually!)

Healthy relationships should be something both girls and boys are taught about int school IMO. Not just once, but as an ongoing thing throughout school, especially when they get to the age they are starting to have relationships themselves.

Also there should be much better funding for support services. The Women's Aid line for example, should not be difficult to get through to, nor should they be cash-strapped. That it is and they are shows that as a society we're just not taking DV seriously.

aufaniae Sat 02-Mar-13 09:36:16

Abitwobblynow speaking from my own personal experience - anecdotal I know, but FWIW, here goes: I went to both a girls' secondary and then a mixed secondary.

At the girls' school, we idolised boys. Any boys who were half decent, as we didn't know any or ever get to spend time with them, other than rare meetings of our friends' brothers and their friends. Boys were a big deal! We spent a lot of time talking about them, and obsessing about them.

Then, when I moved to the mixed school, I found the attitude of girls to boys was totally different. They certainly weren't adored or idolised. They were treated like other classmates. Certainly nothing special just because of their gender. We knew them as mere mortals, warts and all. Some were even very annoying IIRC! Girls simply did not obsess about boys in the same way as the single sex school, not in the slightest.

The mixed school fostered much more healthy relations between the sexes. Some of the boys became my best friends, and my closest friends as a nearly 40-year old include three men who I became friends with as a teen. (Never a relationship, actual friends). This wouldn't have been possible at the girls school. My friendship group as an adult consists of both men and women and our lives are richer for it. I think it's a shame that there are so many adults only have real friends of the their own sex, basically because of lack of opportunity to meet the opposite sex on an equal footing when they were young. It fosters this whole "When Harry Met Sally" bollocks that men and women can't be friends. Total rot, and very unhealthy IMO.

Hissy Sat 02-Mar-13 10:11:01

Wobbly, thanks for that. confused

When you have been where I've been, lived what I've lived, seen what I've seen, no amount of words on wood pulp will disprove what society itself IS.

How can segregation enable integration? How did that work in 1950s USA, or Apartheid SA? Or the middle east today? Hmm?

The only way of understanding others, encouraging mutual respect is by supporting education, integration, and open discussion of things that are unacceptable/unfair.

DyeInTheEar Sat 02-Mar-13 10:32:49

Apologies if someone's made comment about this t shirt elsewhere on MN. I've not been able to spend much time on here recently so there could be a thread somewhere tackling this.

But my friend drew my attention to this t shirt found on Amazon. I'm so depressed by the casual misogyny allowed in our society. Why is it not illegal? To incite racial violence is. To attack someone because of their sexuality is. Why can't we stop this on the ground of gender intolerance?

should not be sold anywhere

Hissy Sat 02-Mar-13 12:04:40

Wobbly, thanks for that. confused

When you have been where I've been, lived what I've lived, seen what I've seen, no amount of words on wood pulp will disprove what society itself IS.

How can segregation enable integration? How did that work in 1950s USA, or Apartheid SA? Or the middle east today? Hmm?

I'd also suggest that 'selective gender' schooling may be, in some small part responsible for thw woeful mishandling of decisions related to DV by Judges and politicians.

The only way of understanding others, encouraging mutual respect is by supporting education, integration, and open discussion of things that are unacceptable/unfair.

Perhaps the conversations ought to be conducted at times to a single gender audience, but the ultimate goal is to create a single, equal society.

Nothing less.

Jon Cruddas, well done for bringing this up.

Personally I agree with a lot of what you say. I think pornography is a huge issue and I worry when we try and tackle all forms of pornography at the same time, because then the end result is that nothing changes. Violent pornography and degrading images of women needs to be got rid of and limited first and then other things can be tacked, in my humble opinion, and at the same time we need to tackle domestic violence and sexualisation of girls (and children generally) and also all the other things mentioned.

What will make politicians take notice and act, what will get the general population aware. I understand that foot binding, a horrible tradition in China, was stopped within a relatively short space of time because of education. Education, I think, also includes popular culture. Popular culture needs to change.

That's a good point, Italian, but it's more than education. If you educate people there's always the 'cultural' excuse: well, I was smacked around by my husband for 40 years but he loved me, so if my daughter's husband witholds the housekeeping and yells at her, she should just work harder at her marriage!" - No amount of education can reach that attitude and change it. But legislation can.

In China, foot-binding was stopped in a short amount of time, properly stopped rather than just sliding out of fashion slowly - because it was made illegal and people who did it were prosecuted and prosecuted and prosecuted until it simply wasn't worth doing any more.

The analogy I've heard is comparing foot binding to FGM. People say "ooh it's cultural, it's hard to change cultural attitudes, we must be sensitive" - but foot binding was stopped because of LEGISLATION and ENFORCEMENT, not education and sensitivity. So I think legislation needs to be followed up with rigorous enforcement, because sometimes social attitudes change and the law catches up (maybe gay marriage is an example here) but most often the law changes and social attitude catches up (racial equality in the American south in the 60s, chinese footbinding).

borninastorm Sat 02-Mar-13 16:35:45

Here is an incredible American photojournalist's almost accidental account of domestic violence in words and pictures that shows the reality of domestic values and opens the doors to the hidden-ness of violence against women in their own homes. It is shocking and it is eye opening. And it is very powerful and thought provoking.

Instead of blogging today I just reblogged the above post.

Yes, Blackcurrants a very good point and I totally agree with you.

I think I was rather thinking of one angle of foot binding, which was, I think, that mothers of sons pledged their sons would not marry girls whose feet had been bound, and I felt that this was a really good powerful message, which helped people who were undecided to sway in the right direction, a kind of 'nudge' in the modern way of talking but 100% agree that legislation is needed to make it happen.

It is hard. It seems to be chicken and egg, do we change the law and hope people will catch up to it socially? I would say yes, but I would also see that sometimes even getting to the point where the law is changed needs a certain swell of the population to go in that direction. IYSWI.

The reason I mentioned foot binding was because it struck me as a kind of advert thing, where the message was passed on, on one site I saw (which I can't now find) it said the message was written on fans!

Wickipdeia credits the start of the demise of foot biding it to some extent to 60 Christian women in Xiamen who called for an end of the practice.

One site I looked at had this quote...

"Footbinding stopped because it became such a powerful symbol of national shame"

- TV Documentary, China: the Wild East (1995)"

(Not advocating or agreeing with this site, I have not read this whole site and it compares foot binding to male circumcision and on other sites I have seen foot binding has been compared to Female genital mutilation, which used to be refered to as female 'circumcision'.)

I don't know if that is true that it was the shame that affected China or not but wouldn't it be wonderful if violence against women stopped in all nations around the world as it became realised how truly shameful it is!

I say this in total agreement to the idea of legislation, I guess I am saying both legislation and education (including social pop culture/peer pressure the whole kit and kaboodle).

doorkeeper Sat 02-Mar-13 17:32:11

I have to say, the first thing that comes to mind today is to make sure that prominent men in education, who set the agenda and shape the values passed onto our kids, don't themselves hold dinosaur attitudes.

This message brought to you from someone who still can't believe that Toby Young's considered, public response to the allegations of sexual harrassment by a senior politician was "If Lord Rennard looked like George Clooney, would there have been so many complaints?" (He said this yesterday on BBC Radio 4.)

I am so glad that my son isn't going to the WLFS. I'd hate for him to learn his values at a place where the Chair of the Governors has this attitude to sexual harrassment.

borninastorm that is a terribly saddening and horrific link but also amazing that it tells in such a short space the story of possibly many women's lives all over the world. It is incredible in one sense that that terrible night did not end more tragically.

There is one line that is so chilling "...that she could choose between getting beaten in the kitchen, or going with him to the basement..."

There is another line that stands out so much for me of hope, when Maggie says of her daughter "I want her to know that it's not okay for someone to treat you that way, that you don't ever deserve to be treated that way,"

Thank you for posting it borninastorm.

doorkeeper, yes I heard that Lord Rennard comment. What a stupid and crap thing to say.

grumpyoldbookworm Sat 02-Mar-13 20:15:37

If any violence is domestic, this should be a specific aggravating category in the court sentencing guidelines. It isn't now. I think it should be.
Also, as the mother of sons, boys should be taught not to misread the behaviour of drunk girls as consent.

HilaryBurrage Sat 02-Mar-13 21:34:52

It seems unbelievable now, but as a child in the mid-1950s I actually met Gladys Aylward who did so much to stop foot-binding in China, and I still have both a doll and a book which she gave to us.

The book of her story makes it clear that Gladys' role, with the encouragement of the regional officials, was as an Inspector: she was the non-partisan, female implementer of the 'no foot-binding' edict from the national powers-that-be which ensured that girls were not thus incapacitated.

The equivalent for FGM: Female Genital Mutilation would be medical inspection of children to ensure that they have not been mutilated.

Such inspection does occur, eg in France; and I would say we need it here as well (with, of course, a parent in attendance). But the Government disagrees, and says British people would not tolerate it.

What do others think?

Would you agree routinely to let your child be discretely inspected (with of course you present) if it helped protect other more vulnerable children?

welshdragon1 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:35:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

welshdragon1 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:38:21

PS - how strange I also as a child showing my age met Gladys Aylward - she championed the rights of the child and women....

Xenia Sat 02-Mar-13 22:02:43

Eradicate men? We only need a few as sperm donors really.

Also we were taught judo - our parents were keen we had self defence skills although I am sure that is not always going to work.

Also if women are financially independent they tend to be more free - eg if you are a girl in Pakistan with no education and income then killing yourself with chip pan fires may be what you think is your only route out of violence, whereas if you're earning more than your husband you tend to have more choices. Education for girls is therefore a good and bringing them up not to be housewives relying on men for money but outearning their other halves.

HilaryBurrage Sat 02-Mar-13 22:34:54

Xenia: Hope you won't mind if I share my recent thoughts *here*, in support of your comments about girls' education and financial independence....

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 00:10:17

I'm not sure I'd be happy for my (hypothetical) daughter to be examined for signs of FGM, although I think it's a good idea in theory for it to be monitored/checked in some way. Tough one.

BertieBotts Sun 03-Mar-13 00:36:56

Xenia I don't think education and financial security is enough. Women have a viable route out of violence in this country - Women's Aid and other charities might be stretched, but they exist and offer an extremely valuable service. There are also other supported routes for women to leave abusive relationships. The practical side isn't really a barrier for women in the UK (I am aware it must be elsewhere.)

In my experience the practical considerations or other tangible, easily understandable "barriers" such as fear of retaliation are quite often put up by women themselves because they don't want to face the fact that they do have a choice to leave and that they are making a choice to stay, for intensely complex, confusing and difficult reasons, none of which are their fault, none of which can be easily addressed by a support service. This is the stuff like traumatic bonding, stockholm syndrome, as well as women believing that the relationship (especially if there are DC involved) is her responsibility and that if it goes wrong she has failed, anger = passion beliefs, love = abuse, unhealthy relationship templates picked up from childhood, belief that this is as good as it gets, feeling that she should be grateful, believing that only some kinds of abuse are "real", an overhanging tendency to believe on some level that as a divorced woman or woman who already has children she is "worth" less, a myriad of other related and unrelated things.

This is the stuff that it's hard to change with things like policy - some of it goes back decades and isn't generally accepted as truth any more, but if enough of your friends and family believe something, most people don't challenge that, at least not for a long time, even if most of society is giving a different message (and in fact, it isn't - many of these messages ARE reflected in/supported by society in general.)

What would help in my opinion:

More understanding of how abuse works and where it comes from (ie the abusive mindset.) Understanding that physical abuse is a symptom and that ALL abuse is emotional abuse and that emotional abuse/control is at the heart of all abusive behaviours. Abusers don't think they're doing anything wrong, even when it's pointed out to them in black and white. They might know hitting, for example, is wrong, but they don't believe that it's wrong to prevent your girlfriend from going out with her friends. (So in absence of hitting they just fall to other, more subtle abuse techniques and continue to excuse PA as "I snapped - she pushed me to it. I had to.")

Abuse victims taken seriously, reports followed up, lines/dots joined up - rather than treating crimes/incidents/complaints as separate issues, why don't agencies get to look at the whole picture? Abusers don't just abuse once and then magically change and turn into good people, because they believe they are justified in their actions.

Protect children. The current system where unsupervised access is seen as a goal to work for is a joke. Non-abusive parents, of course, should be able to see and develop relationships with their children. Abusive parents should not be allowed to "work towards" unsupervised contact until the DC are old enough to express an opinion AT LEAST. Protect children and the next generation have much more chance of going on to form healthy and non-abusive relationships. It's a cycle.

General changing of attitudes within society towards women and men and VAW.

Women's Aid and the like are also exploited by people like my DHs ex. Think Tyrone's ex from Coronation St. These women REALLY do exist. I have a 20k solicitors bill to prove it.

Also DV figures are skewed. I reported my exH for harassment, i never received any blows but it was documented as domestic violence? Maybe I'm naive but harassment is not violence.

Xenia Sun 03-Mar-13 07:46:03

I certainly think in general women tend to be better able to escape violence if they are educated and earn their own money. However I agree that that does not remove all violence. In fact I think FMG is woman on woman and a lot of the men aren't too bothered about it. It is the mothers and grandmothers who impose it - it can in effect by woman on woman violence. Other domestic violence is however indeed man on woman in the main. In fact this week the news included items about children physically abusing parents which we don't often see in the press so there are certainly a lot of aspects to all this.

HB, thanks for the blog link. In our local schools (very mixed race) some girls take 30 minutes to urinate because of the mess that has been made to their bodies during FMG.

I would have no problem with my children being examined for FMG although I suspect it would be best to concentrate on schools where children are from that part of the world. It could be a condition for admission to the school that they consent in advance. Anyway we want children who are not ashamed of their bodies, happy to show them etc. If a family is bringing up a child to think its body must be hidden and covered then that is not great for children. I am from a doctor's family and we have never had issues about nudity etc and I certainly would not have minded by daughters when 4 - 6 etc being examined at school by a school nurse for signs of FMG.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 08:05:08

Salad, for every one woman using the services when they don't need them, there are probably 50-100 not using them when they would really help.

As promised, I've had a trawl through old threads about opt-in porn filtering. I hope it's OK to re-post this here, I'm not sure Kaloki's around any more but the post below clearly explains the problems with this proposal. If you're still reading, Kaloki, thanks once again for your excellent post ...


*KalokiMallow Thu 23-Dec-10 18:59:06*

I apologise in advance, this is probably going to be a long post, but if you are interested in the technical reasons why filtering porn cannot work, then you really should read it.

Anatomy of a website

The domain is the address you type in.
This is actually separate to the website itself, which is why you can have multiple domain names pointed to the same site.

Say you wanted to block you wouldn't necessarily be blocking access to the website itself. As they could then just set up without having to change where it is hosted or reload content.

You also could block domain names with keywords in the title, say you blocked "mumsnet", however this wouldn't block - which could easily be pointed at the same site.

So that wouldn't work for filtering websites, too easy to get around.

A website is hosted on rented or bought server space, you could block the IP address for a server, which is what the domain name points to. This is about the only way to block websites, but requires you individually blocking each website.

An ISP provides access to the internet, whether for a user or server, some have their own servers which they host sites on. But not all do. Hosting and providing net access are two different things.

Essentially the same as the domain name, but with directions to specific pages or files.

You could block specific pages within a website, either by keyword or knowing the address. However you'd have to somehow take into account embedded information;
The web standard style of coding websites nowadays usually runs along the lines of;
Main page
¬ Header
¬ Content
¬ Footer

So while you may have blocked "main page", you haven't blocked "header", "content" and "footer", and if someone was to direct link to one of them..

Meta Data
Hidden information coded into webpages, usually keywords and a description. Not all sites bother with this though.

So although you could search the meta data for keywords and block pages where the meta keywords are to be filtered, if someone hasn't entered meta data then the computer will have no way of knowing.

Keywords could also be in the coding. This will include the text you see on the page. You could block pages with blocked keywords, however, read on to see why that is flawed.

There are only two way to block images.
1) Block any images that are inserted using the <img src= /> code. Which will block 99% of images. 99% of all images that is. Including the MN logo at the top of your page.
2) Block images with filtered keywords, but this has the same problem as meta data, it doesn't have to be filled in. And the image file could be 111111.jpg. With no keyword data, you have no clue of that is a pornographic image or a pretty little flower.

There is no technology that exists that can identify what an unlabelled, generically titled image is either.

Embedded Media
Exactly the same as Images. This covers embedded video, interactive flash and audio.

Different filtering methods

You could block keywords. But what keywords would you block for porn?

Penis? Vagina? Breast?
- there goes any website that mentions anatomy in any way, say medical websites...

- so no personal pages about Ginger the cat.

Porn? Erotica?
- There goes this page, and a large part of the feminism forum.

Do any of you have spam filters on your email? Does that work all of the time?
Do you ever get emails asking if you'd like to purchase v1agra?

That's the other way to get round keyword filters, just type things wrong or leave sp aces in them. You could even add in sym|3ols.

Also, if you wanted text but didn't want it searchable then you'd just use an image file with the text on and not label the image file. Easy.

So to summarise. You can block individual IP addresses, one by one - but hang on, how would you implement this? Who'd decide? Do you create a central agency to decide? Or do you leave it up to the public to report?

If you leave it up to the public do you immediately filter any reported sites to look at when someone gets a chance? Or do you wait? Could get a few complaints when sites aren't removed promptly enough? Say you decide that you will only filter a site when it has a set number of complaints? What happens when a large group of internet users decide it would be amusing to all report one site at once?

And would you block the page with the content, or the whole site? What if someone posted a pornographic picture on flickr, do you filter all of flickr?

If you use keywords to block sites then you will block innocent websites.

There's also a flaw with opting in. Say it's a family network, (because remember, the ISP's can't distinguish between separate computers) and one person wants to opt in (possibly because the filter system has blocked a website which isn't actually pornographic) then how do you protect the children?? Oh yeah, a computer based filter. One which can be set up not only for individual computers, but also for individual user accounts on one computer.

And you can set it up to block or not block exactly what you want! How exciting!


More very long threads on this topic here and here

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 09:53:08

Thanks plenty and kaloki

Xenia Sun 03-Mar-13 10:06:05

Not all women or all feminists are in favour of internet censorship by the way.Parents decide what they want their children to experience whether that be other parents walking around naked at home or everyone covered up, whether that be pro or anti hunting, meat or no meat, religion or none, whether they are allowed any TV/media at all. Plenty of women are very much against any new opt in law.

On FMG in today's papers is this which is very helpful:

"DAVID CAMERON is to allocate tens of millions of pounds of Britain’s foreign aid to eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM) around the world within a generation.

He will make the largest-ever international investment to wipe out the practice, in which young girls are mutilated because their communities believe it makes them more marriageable.

FGM is banned in Britain but up to 24,000 girls aged under 15 — mainly of African and Middle Eastern origin — are considered at risk of being taken abroad for the operation.

Cameron’s move comes after ministers praised an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times that exposed a doctor, a dentist and an alternative medicine practitioner in Britain offering to circumcise girls as young as 10, or help to arrange for the procedure to be carried out.

Ministers believe the best way to protect girls in Britain is to invest in educational schemes that could eradicate it worldwide. As many as 100,000 women in Britain are thought to have undergone FGM, according to Forward, a charity that campaigns against the practice.

The campaign will be the centrepiece of a series of announcements by Cameron to mark International Women’s Day on Friday.

FGM, which is estimated to affect 140m women worldwide, involves the surgical removal of a girl’s external genitalia, and in some cases stitching up the vagina. It can lead to health problems, including infections, difficulty in urinating, scarring and painful intercourse. It can also cause fatal haemorrhaging.

Lynne Featherstone, the international development minister with responsibility for women, is to lead the international drive to eradicate FGM. She believes it can be reduced by 30% in five years and abolished as a cultural norm within a generation.

This week she is to travel to New York, where she will announce at a UN summit on violence against women that Britain will lead a worldwide campaign to stamp out the practice.

“The girl who undergoes FGM is the same girl who is taken out of school early to marry, and the same girl who dies before she reaches age 20, giving birth to her third child,” she said.

“FGM has been a highly neglected area within international development, considered too taboo and, frankly, too difficult to tackle. The new programme is ambitious, with the aim of ending FGM in a generation.”

Britain will target investment at galvanising a global movement against the mutilation. It will also be spent on community programmes aimed at changing the belief that girls who have not had their external genitalia removed will not find a good husband.

In Somalia, Sudan and parts of Egypt, 90% or more of women reportedly undergo the procedure. However, some countries, including Senegal and Kenya, have started trying to eradicate it.

In Senegal, villages rejecting FGM hold a ceremony to celebrate their decision. However, the practice remains widespread in other African states.

The government is also planning to involve diaspora communities from Africa and the Middle East living in Britain to stop them sending back girls to be cut.

In a separate move to stamp out FGM in Britain, the Home Office is also examining how to deport “cutters” who illegally mutilate girls here. There has not yet been a single prosecution in the UK of a cutter. The practice carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Waris Dirie, a former Somali model who campaigns against FGM and has revealed that she had been a victim of the practice, said: “People who practise FGM or offer to perform FGM are criminals and must be brought to justice.”

Parents decide what they want their children to experience

Technical problems notwithstanding, it is illegal to allow your children to access pornography. It's quite rightly counted as child sexual abuse.

Gingersnap88 Sun 03-Mar-13 10:33:49

End the sexualisation of women, it's bloody everywhere and makes women's bodies commodities. Our children are growing up thinking its normal, and that is seriously wrong.

Ban page 3, I mean honestly, what is wrong with us? Can people got give up boobs over breakfast?

Opt in for porn.

Relationship education in schools from primary, because there isn't enough happening in lots of homes and the messages they get from the media are so conflicting.

In 50 years I think we will look back at how the Internet and media were fairly unregulated and we will be aghast.

Page 3, Nuts, FHM....they're everywhere and where children can see them. Children should not be seeing this stuff, specifically boys. As a teenager, I hated seeing The Sun, The Sport etc and that was before all the FHM and Nuts crap. It made me uncomfortable and not keen on men. When I first got boobs I felt self-conscious because of these publications and wore baggy tops or walked around with my arms crossed over my chest. Teenage boys think these images are acceptable and normal. I don't want my sons growing up with this shite. They are only 6MO and 4YO, but it would be nice if this stuff would go before they reach a certain age.

Just echoing others but;

Education in schools about porn, body image, domestic violence is vital.

Support from the police for women who have been assaulted/attacked.

End corruption in churches. Priests should not be forgiven and sent on their merry way to abuse again in a different county, or another country.

VenusRising Sun 03-Mar-13 12:19:09

Close the pay gap.

It's theft that women are paid less then men.

TheOriginalLadyFT Sun 03-Mar-13 13:34:48

Glad to see others wanting an end of the normalisation of women being depicted everywhere as sexual beings rather than just human beings.

For me, it is where every issue about women being treated badly starts - boys growing up in a culture which demeans women in everyday life have to swim against the tide not to think of women as somehow less valid or equal.

There is the simple starting point, Mr Cruddas - ban page 3 and put magazines like FHM, Zoo and Nuts on the top shelf with other porn. That would send out a clear message that it is no longer acceptable to demean women in this way. I cannot understand why it is so hard to do this - is you replaced women being used in this way and substituted coloured people, the idea becomes instantly offensive. A coloured person on page 3 with an inane speech bubble coming out of their mouth (because anything they have to say must be hilarious)? - grossly offensive. So why is depicting women in this way any different?

Sunnywithshowers Sun 03-Mar-13 13:42:57

Page 3 and the like shouldn't be allowed. It serves to provide an environment where women are turned into sex objects - more info here

I once called the police about my abusive ex - they laughed at me. He'd thrown a bunch of bananas at my face (it weighed about 1kg). They thought I was having a laugh. A few months later he threatened me with a hammer for the second time (I didn't report the first) and it took over half an hour for someone to arrive, even though he smashed up the phone while I was making the call to emergency services. They took me seriously then, but were too short-staffed to turn up sooner.

He wasn't arrested, however, despite the fact that they could see the house was smashed up and I was terrified. They didn't do anything except send me a load of leaflets to my work about DV.

When my ex harrassed me after we'd split, the liaison officer was amazing. But the older detective who took my statement was cynical and not very supportive and could have put off another woman from pressing charges.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 03-Mar-13 13:59:46

Great post FT

What would be good is if women were included in the hate speech legislation.

Currently you can be prosecuted for hate speech on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation, but not on the grounds of sex (I don't think disability is covered either, it would be good to see that remedied too).

beccala Sun 03-Mar-13 21:16:02

IMHO women need to do more too. Personally, I would never buy a newspaper with a page 3 girl in it: I strongly disagree that this should be allowed and I vote with my feet.

slug Mon 04-Mar-13 11:49:24

This and this sort of thing needs to be defined as hate speech. It need to be taken seriously and prosecuted.

Women and girls need the police to take seriously their complaints about the low level constant sexual harassment they have to endure on a daily basis.

At one point, not so long ago, it was perfectly acceptable to launch into a racist rant in the pub then toddle off, drunk, to drive home. Neither of these things is seen as acceptable behaviour now. It didn't take a whole lot of time to make that culture change. It just needed legislation with teeth and the backing of the justice system and the media.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 04-Mar-13 19:18:09

Get CAFCASS, judges, police officers and everyone else trained up in just how harmful domestic violence is for children and STOP men who are guilty of it, having sole contact with children and being allowed to go back to the family home.

Confused40 Mon 04-Mar-13 22:51:56

Attended this meeting, which was very bold, and tackled some brave issues. But I was also really disappointed! Made the point that violence needs to be tackled at birth, and children need to be taught in their formative years. I gave an example of my neighbours 4 month old baby who after witnessing dv from his father towards the mother has been traumatised. Was shot down saying survivors go on to have successful lives, which I agreed with also.

It seemed that there were a choice few organisations who'd all linked in with one another, quite cliche, and weren't willing to listen to others ideas/opinions.

Those who make the decisions are CBE's and MBE's which although my own personal view, I don't agree with, as it goes back to days of empire, and control and violence, which didn't make sense at such a meeting.

Or am I wrong??

emma7897 Wed 06-Mar-13 15:57:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Kactu Thu 07-Mar-13 11:34:54

Thank you Jon Cruddas for appealing for ' a popular social movement of moral anger'. I am angry, every woman I speak to is angry and has a story to tell. We must support Mr Cruddas and appeal to our government to follow in the footsteps of Iceland's ministers and address online circulation of hardcore and often violent pornography.

nongenderbias9 Fri 08-Mar-13 11:22:55

There are some important points here. Essentially we are dealing with mental health issues. We are concentrating on the DV of men against women and children because that is the topic of today. We can talk about the pain caused, the assault on woman's ego and the very personal feeling of injustice. There is a clear sense of right and wrong of punishments meted out to retaliate. Clearly in these cases the anger which fuels the violence would better be used for other purpose. The preferred method for settling differences is through dialogue and negotiation. Sometimes violence can be avoided by improving communication.
Statistically women are more proned to be violent against children but this information is largely quoshed. In court physical aggression demonstrated by men can be described as domestic violence, but when demonstrated by women it is toned down to something they call "implacable hostility". One thing is clear, it's always better to resolve issues respectfully. One of the emotions we feel is anger. This is natural for all animals regardless of gender. It's how you identify it and deal with it that matters. There are plenty of books on the subject.

FastidiaBlueberry Fri 08-Mar-13 17:52:14

"Statistically women are more proned to be violent against children but this information is largely quoshed."

What do you mean by that?

That women are statistically more prone to be violent against children than they are against other women or against men? That is very likely.

Or that they are more prone to be violent against children than men are? Because if it's the latter, that's bollocks. When you look at the amount of time women spend with children versus the amount of time men do and then you look at the amount of violence inflicted on children by women versus the amount inflicted by men, women proportionately less violent towards children than men are.

nongenderbias9 Fri 08-Mar-13 23:20:15

Hi. it could be that mothers have a lot more help for their behavioural problems. For instance Social Services have Family support Workers who can work with Mother to improve her parenting behaviour. Fathers on the other hand are offered very little from the same organisation. They might expect the Police but they aren't great social workers.
It seems very unfair that all the pressures of parenting seem to rest on Mums shoulders when father is equally capable of doing the same job, Hardly surprising that she doesn't get equality in the work place when he doesn't get equality in parental care.
I often think we are one of the most socially backward and gender unequal Countries in the world. The law doesn't reflect the reality which is that mens and womens roles are not nearly so well defined as they used to be.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 09-Mar-13 00:21:24

Oh hi ngb9. Haven't seen you for a while.

Some of the material discussed on this thread is the sort of thing that needs prosecuting as hate speech. Screen shots here

Thank you to the poster who saved these and to all those who are tweeting and otherwise publicising this. I very much hope the police will take an interest.

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