the Disillusioned kid: 1,000 Broken Mirrors
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

1,000 Broken Mirrors

The issue of domestic violence is a massive problem within British society. Because it so often takes place behind closed doors however, it is easy to ignore, to brush under the carpet, to dismiss as a "private" matter. This is simply not good enough, however. Quite apart from the costs domestic violence imposes on the economy (£23 billion a year) it claims the lives of two women each and every week. A neccesary first step towards dealing with this problem is to acknowledge the reality of it. The survey by children's charity NSPCC released yesterday (and reported in the Guardian) offers an insight into this grim reality.

When we thing of domestic violence we tend to associate it with adults, particularly amongst married couples. The survey, however, shows that it is a massive problem even amongst teenagers:
16% of teenage girls have been hit by a boyfriend.
4% regularly! A further 15% have been pushed. Over two thirds of the girls hit then stayed with their boyfriends, and a fifth ignored the abuse altogether. 27% of girls who have been hit by a boyfriend have seen their parents hit each other.

43% think it is acceptable for a boyfriend to get aggressive.
6% said it is OK for a guy to hit his girlfriend and 2% "understand" a boy forcing his girlfriend to have sex in certain circumstances. But shockingly, over 40% of all girls said they would "consider giving a boy a second chance" if he hit them.

Two thirds of those who said it was ok for a boy to hit his girlfriend think cheating on a boy gives him the right to get aggressive with his girlfriend.
Other reasons that make it acceptable include: "if she's flirting with someone else" (a quarter think that makes it OK), or if "she's been screaming at him" (over a half). 5% say it's acceptable if she's "dressed outrageously".

6% have been forced to have sex by a boyfriend - a third forgave him and stayed with him.
This suggests that those of us concerned about the issues have a mountain to climb.

Anyone interested in the issues surrounding domestic violence and violence against women more generally should check out Women's Aid and/or Amnesty International.

This all goes someway to discrediting the arguments popular amongst many of my friends that feminism has won or is somehow irrelevant in the modern world. Quite the opposite is true in fact. No doubt there have been many victories over the last century, but women in the UK remain the victims of a vastly disproportionate level of gender based violence, continue to earn less than men, generally continue to do the majority of housework and face increasing attacks on their reproductive rights. All quite apart from the much worse situation in large parts of the world.

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