Sunday, 8 March 2009

Warning women about violent men?

Browsing through the very worthy Guardian website, I came across this article about a British Police proposal to warn women entering relationships with violent men. A similar scheme already exists to warn women in relationships with paedophiles, to ensure they don't unwittingly expose their children to risk. The proposed domestic violence scheme would warn partners of serial domestic abusers, who go from relationship to relationship, inflicting violence on women.

This is another version of the age old question of liberal democracy: how far can society curb the freedoms and privacy of individuals in order to protect others? I think this proposal to warn women is pretty reasonable. The news that a man is a serial abuser will likely break up some relationships - but if a man is temporarily concealing his violent tendencies just long enough to lure a woman into a relationship, it's hard to have much sympathy. I'd have more sympathy for a man trying to turn himself around and give up violence - but if his commitment was genuine, I figure he would tell his partner about his past behaviour himself.

There's one thing that disturbs me about this article, though: the suggestion that the proposal could mean 'the state interfering in adults' love lives'. Violence is not an expression of love. Nor is it a private business between 'consenting' adults. No one in their right mind would suggest that attempts to prevent violence outside the home impinge on the freedoms of people involved. Why, when violence happens within the home, do we apply different rules?

5 comments:

Pauline said...

So are the police going to stick around when the woman they have informed confronts her new partner?

Cactus Kate said...

That's nice.

So how many of you have warned your female friends against a boyfriend who you know to be violent and they choose to stay in that relationship?

the Scarlet Manuka said...

... if a man is temporarily concealing his violent tendencies ...

Generally agree with you, but feel that the phrase above has a hint of 'othering'. A few men truly are 'other', but most use violence as a tool to obtain something else. We see it work for other people, then find it works for us as well. So I picture most men in new relationships getting by without resorting to violence, rather than 'concealing' it.

Maybe for a while they are more empathetic to their partner, or at least attentive, and do the small but important things. On the flip side, their partner is infatuated and goes way beyond any reasonable expectation. The man gets what he wants the nice way.

Anna said...

I see your point, Manuka - it's not particularly helpful to talk about violent men as if they're a different species. 'Conceal' is probably the wrong word. It suggests that these men are secretly plotting for the time when they feel they can start being violent, rather than just using whatever strategy works to get whatever it is they want to achieve.

And that's a very good point, Pauline - the Police could indirectly contribute to a very dangerous situation for the woman involved. If they hardly have resources to actually alert the woman involved, it's hard to imagine they'd be able to offer these women protection.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that if a man makes a real commitment to non-violence, discussing that with his partner, and not resorting to non-violent power and control tactics instead, should be part of that commitment. So I don't think that a guy in that situation would have anything to fear from the Police alerting his partner about his past, as is suggested in the article.

peterquixote said...

oh baby I love you but i just gotta say that the home secretary tell me I gotta advise you that i bash up sometime love me tender