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Penny Booth: Family*

Date:7 SEP 2010

Penny Booth

Parents investigated over an 'honour killing' last week - not the first one we've had in the news, is it?

Just a minute. Where's my Concise Oxford Dictionary? ‘Honour: high respect; glory; reputation ... respect highly, confer dignity upon ...'

No - can't be that, then, can it? Not in my dictionary, it isn't. This is simply murder, and conferring ‘honour killing' upon these activities merely shows that we are cloaking with the respect of religion a murderous action which deprives another human being of life for no reason that could be good or honourable. Not for anywhere, never mind in a family.

Perhaps it would be better if politicians stopped using their families when it suited them and the sticky situations they find themselves in? Strange how personal life and privacy is called upon when the press (bless them) get too close and then our dear leaders shout ‘foul' and call the referee over. I am afraid it catches the throat for me when they then use their loved ones as reasons for actions about which there may be a moral dilemma, or as part of their explanations to get them out of trouble. We have seen it in the past with dear ex-leaders, now we are catching glimpses of it with our freshly-scrubbed new ones. Steady on! There's still 4 years and a quite a bit to go, chaps. Let's leave the families (and loved ones, assuming they are not one-and-the-same) out of it.

I see that the Sunday Times on 5 September had an interesting article in the Review section on p 4 - 'Battered Husbands are the victims we never see'. That was very uncomfortable reading, indeed. Prompted by Eminem's new video (ask a younger person) the information on domestic violence and men as the victims makes one squirm possibly more than the usual stories of domestic violence. I am not at all sure that I agree that the line between love and hate should be accepted as being THAT close, though. Once ‘accepted', domestic violence becomes more of a possibility and it has taken long enough (anyone remember Pizzey's book, Scream quietly or the neighbours will hear?) to stop that kind of ‘acceptance' holding any credibility. The lyrics from the Eminem song are twisted, probably like the situation in domestic violence - clue is in the words - violence in a place that should be safe. What about the victims, then? Well, over 60% of victims of domestic violence are female. It doesn't take much to work out the maths, so the rest are men, of whom we hear little as victims. The article states that men stay with violent women for similar reasons to women who stay with violent men. Both are caught in the trap of shame and are often emotionally paralysed and unable to act. Men are less likely to suffer repeated abuse and less likely to end up dead as a result of the violence. Arguably, it is harder for a man to admit to being a victim of an abusive relationship but that is probably because of the gender bias in behaviour expectations. The article I read was unexpected in its bland acceptance of the domestic violence situation - probably because it was about a music video rather than how we can use the law to deal with domestic violence. I would still rather make the point, though, that whilst there might be a connection in some people's eyes between violence and passion, we should not allow any suggestion of a ‘cop-out' for domestic violence of any sort. Abuse of anyone, never mind ‘family', is just wrong.

*Intrigued, I looked this up in my old Oxford Concise Dictionary dated 1973 and for ‘family' it gave ‘members of a household, parents, children, servants ...' (yes, ‘servants').

Time for me to get a new dictionary?

Penny Booth is running the Great North Run for Age UK on 19 September, 2010. This is a half marathon and should she manage to complete the 13.1 miles then please coinsider giving a donation to Age Uk via www.justgiving.com/PennyBooth

Penny Booth is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.