McIntosh slowly concedes – or does she ?

The consensus of three

McIntosh has shot her bolt. Unable now to get subsequent papers published one could surmise that her blade has been well and truly blunted. No longer does her narrative alone scythe its way through the opposition and into the headlines, as once it did.

Yet ever determined to defy gravity she calls upon the opinions of a coterie of 2 other authors (Marsha Pruett, Joan Kelly and, of course herself, Jenn McIntosh), to provide the world with a ‘consensus’ and a “consensus perspective.” This she puts together in a paper entitled “Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children, Part II: Putting Theory into Practice”  (April 2014. Just how over-blown is the opinion of their own work can be summed up by referring to their belief that they have distilled ”empirical and theoretical perspectives” (see http://www.afccnet.org/Portals/0/PublicDocuments/CEFCP/2014_01_Jan_McIntosh_Pruett_Kelly_Part_II.pdf ). [1]

A consensus of 3 is not only pathetic but an oxymoron ! [2] So is she joking ?

Apparently not; such is the belief of any fanatic that they can never be wrong – it’s only the rest of the world who is out-of-step with them. McIntosh’s so-called “consensus” is a vain attempt to elevate 3 opinions to the same stature as Warshak’s consensus article signed by 111 of the worlds leading experts. Significantly, McIntosh’s article wasn’t even ‘peer reviewed.’

‘No contest’, one would have thought, it can’t carry anywhere near the weight of Warshak’s work yet Australian based McIntosh magnanimously gives Warshak’s work a single footnote (almost as if an afterthought) in her solo effort “The care of very young children after their parents separate” ; an article published in 2014 – some considerable time after the original furore. [3]

Look more closely, “Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children”  includes in its title “Part II”  – so there must be a Part I, and there is; it too was written by the trio Pruett, Kelly & McIntosh. However, by the time Pruett and Kelly had got to the end of Part I (also published in April 2014), their will power was beginning to flag. Part I has to be seen as a reasonable and well-reasoned approach to the subject but Part II has forensic signs of unraveling if not decomposition.

They (but one suspects its more a cases of ‘she’), goes on about how best to make decisions, i.e. tests (presumably these hurdles are designed only for fathers), about granting sleepovers:

  • “We suggest that both attachment and parental involvement perspectives point to a common centerpoint upon which decisions about overnights are best grounded: the nature and quality of the parent-child relationship.”

But how can that happen if fathers are presented with a set of hoops to jump through and are de facto ostracised by her formulaic framework ?

Apply now for your “Licence to Parent”

Let loose on society McIntosh & Co would bring us all closer to the Big Brother state where the monitoring and licensing (of state approved parents) to parent the child allocated to them, would be normalised.

Her (their) ‘underpinning assumptions’ include the prospect that all children are facing stress, parental substance abuse, violence, and unfit parents. Yes, we are all too well aware of ‘deranged’ or incompetent parents but that is no reason to treat all the remaining 99.9% of parents as if they were idiots or have a history of psychiatric problems (re Para 3.3). There is and always has been on-going therapeutic support for such parents and to conflate normal, balanced parents with these rare cases which, yes, “are of critical importance” is a fundamental mistake of the first order.

Banging on about violence, high conflict etc, etc is popular in ‘radical feminist’ circles but look at the annual numbers – only about 4% of women annually experience any form of domestic abuse and the majority of that figure is confined to a). unmarried couples, b).  single women, and c).  women who are unemployed or in the lowest social economic category, i.e. most usually single. McIntosh ought to get out a little more often ; in all countries of the Western World inter-personal violence is, if anything, falling not increasing (Ref. Prof Pinker, Harvard).

Her world view resembles Reagan-omics where the benefits she will provide will filter down to us the ‘plebs’ and bovine-like we will not only be grateful but respond in unison as if we were one well-oiled machine.

Thus she ignores that we are all sentient beings and blithely ploughs on building for us a “framework” for “individual infant needs and parents’ circumstances.” Someone should point out to her that you don’t even get that level of treatment in a divorce where the parties can speak for themselves. In fact, the concept of each case treated on its merits was last put forward by the Archbishop of Canterbury in ‘Putting Asunder’, 1964, and which was promptly rubbished as impractical by the legal profession in “The Field of Choice” (1966). [4] Protecting both young and older child from harm is what we all want but its something we still can’t do even in the more extreme examples that hit the headlines and what McIntosh proposes is not only repugnant but is tinkering at the edges. She is fiddling while Rome burns.

We all want children to be able to access the full range of complementary emotional, family, cognitive, social and economic resources each parent can offer, i.e. normative relationships, but this is no way to set about achieving such a goal.

Found wanting

When it comes to weighing the work of Messrs McIntosh, Pruett and Kelly in the scales of importance one would have thought, ‘No contest’, when compared to that of the weight of Warshak’s or, say, Nielsen’s solo effort of Aug 2014 (“The care of very young children after their parents separate”), but whereas McIntosh grudgingly gives Warshak’s work a single footnote (albeit as if an afterthought), she gives none to Nielsen. [5] So who is she scared of most ?

More unfortunately still, McIntosh’s clouded thinking continues to do damage. McIntosh has previously and elsewhere been described as a wicked witch (see “Ozz – the ‘Wicked Witch’ Flies North”, Dec 2011. http://equalparenting.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/11b/). So it’s a pity that these other two, and erstwhile respectable, researchers should have been dragged so dangerously close to falling into that same category. They are, or were – like Terrie Moffitt – on the side of the Angels of Enlightened Thinking but they will have to paddle frantically to distance themselves categorically from this supposed “agreed upon” formula which it is claimed is being widely accepted in the field.

With some lawyers using this new ‘checklist’ of hers to justify limiting a father’s overnight time [sleepovers] with his children if aged between 0 – 36 months, the formula has to be solemnly countered.

Peter_AndreModern “Doting Dads” (as the Daily Mail describes them), like Australian rock star Peter Andre (left), must be thanking their lucky stars he no longer lives in Queensland, or anywhere near Australia. [6]

The more McIntosh and her two authors ignore the Tsunami of evidence against her position the more she will be targeted by her peers and critiqued by those outside academic circles. That said, there are already signs that a rift may be occurring and the desired distancing is taking place; the ‘Gang of 3’ may soon be reduced to a ‘Gang of 1.’ And the more we contrast the extent to which fathers like David Beckham, Bob Geldof and Peter Andre will go to ensure their children’s happiness the more outmoded McIntosh looks and the more washed-up is her career.

Intellectually we may sneer at the value and legacy of Jungle Drums but in our own hi-tech world the grapevine and tweeter-sphere are simply alternative analogies for communications, news or near-news, which everyone gets to hear about eventually. Often it is speculative but sometimes it is inspired by previous behaviour and reactions.

Core samples

The more one drills down into the nuanced world of academia the more one realises that all is not calmness and light behind the façade of dreaming spires. The core samples reveal intrigue at every level worthy of a John Le Carre or Graham Green novel, and certainly comparable with Trinity College and the Kim Philby coterie, as the old zeitgeist is usurped by the new.

In June 2014 it was suggested that McIntosh might develop a calculated ‘redemption’ ploy so that she could be re-assimilated (politburo style). Pruett and Kelly were naively key to that  ‘redemption’ ploy and it was predicted that both might lose their perspective if they continued to be associated with McIntosh in the hope of weaning her away from wrecking her own careers and theirs in the process (see ‘Custody chances – how it used to be’  http://equalparenting.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/24/).

Well-placed Jungle Drums have it that in an effort to ‘save face’ the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), “arranged” for an invitation to be extended to all 3 of them (i.e. Joan Kelly, Marsha Pruett and McIntosh), to write the article. School-yard politics then took over. On the grapevine it is rumoured that Robert Emery, a ‘close friend’ of McIntosh and a leading light at the AFCC defended her and threw his weight against Warshak and his 100 plus co-sponsored paper ( including Pamela Ludolph and Linda Nielsen who analytically dissected McIntosh’s “study”).

Emery, having given such fulsome support to McIntosh, sponsored her for the “researcher of the year “award, was then somewhat aghast at the backlash he had unleashed from fellow academics against McIntosh who saw her work (to put it bluntly) as shoddy. Pamela Ludolph for one, was fearless in her condemnatory article that appeared in the Family Court Review (FCR),  heavily criticising McIntosh’s biased views on ‘attachment,’ as indeed was Linda Nielsen in her ‘woozle’ dissection.

What is also truly shocking is that the principle of the First Amendment which permits freedom of speech is being denied by McIntosh with threats of court libel actions. Is her work that precious to her and that fragile ? Though the ‘First Amendment’ is an American construct its’ equal can be found in all English-speaking countries – and thankfully in the EU too.

It goes along with the basic freedom of lawful assembly, the free exercise of religion, the petitioning of government and a free press – Oh no, we now have to cancel the last one; McIntosh does not like, apparently, a free press where different views can be aired (think of Bettina Arndt who has had McIntosh’s legal Rottweilers snarling at the door).

In the end Salem & Shienvold were prevailed upon to calm the gale force seas in a paper entitled “Closing the Gap Without Getting to Yes: Staying With the Shared Parenting Debate.” However, in trying to close the schism they had to concede that:

  • “. . . . .  In addition to the challenges related to the use of social science data by practitioners, policy makers, and advocates, some of whom use research findings selectively to support their position for any number of reasons, the research literature itself is, at times, viewed as suspect.”

And, as anyone with even the faintest knowledge of the fiasco might comment, who but McIntosh could have this criticism of ‘using research findings selectively’ levelled against them ?

We have to accept that there is a part of us that enjoys experiencing being outraged and that we duly responded with outrage. We are now in a tweeter-world that today ‘over-reacts’ at the slightest of provocations – and our over-reaction is a tool used by others against us. Some people know precisely how to induce a reaction in us and do so intentionally.

Similarly our propensity for over-reaction is used to close down free speech so that whenever anyone comes anywhere close to stating a principled position, e.g. rape anonymity, there is a huge over-reaction to the effect that; “You’re excusing their behaviour”, or, “You’re trying to blame the victim” and so it derails logic and terminates any rational debate. Over-reaction has thus become a tool, and a machine for editing thoughts. Over-reaction has also become “predictable” and because it is so predictable (and it is so effective), it is destructive to dialogue and annihilates positive human thought.

When, on the few occasions the debate is in the written form, where such intimidation does not work so well, outrage has to manifest itself through legal proceedings. And then, when one learns that a Social Scientist is profiting from alleged ‘research’ by opening a business promoting her stance, one can see why in purely commercial terms she, i.e. McIntosh, would want to shut down any opposition that might jeopardise the cash flow. The business McIntosh is engaged in is in the marketing of her ‘checklists’ which claims to determine which kids are “at risk” in developing problems after their parents separate. Some might see this as no better than snake oil or snake charming but that is immaterial – we are all allowed to make a living and that goes for journalists who might write unfavourable articles about snake oil salesmen and snake charmers. What is not permissible, and is unconscionable, is to be blackmailed into silence by legal action.

If the AFCC leadership is wise it will ask Marsha Pruett and Joan Kelly to babysit McIntosh and perhaps prevail upon her to move towards a more balanced public position on ‘baby overnighting’ – the source of all the current controversy.

However, that is a big ask – not of McIntosh but of Pruett and Kelly.

We’ve all seen far too clearly how, after the joint paper / article was published McIntosh continued to tout her same position once she was no longer tethered to the reality that Pruett and Kelly brought to the party.

In this regard Pruett and Kelly have been ill-used by McIntosh (and/or duped by Bob Emery), because it now allows her to use their names to back her own narrow views.  Meanwhile. only the Australian Psychological Society (APS) continues to print McIntosh writings in their magazine (again,  it was not peer-reviewed), which is a puzzle given that McIntosh has so clearly violated the Society’s ethical standards. And for all outwards appearances the Australian Infant Mental Health Association (AIMHA), has never taken her material off their website. So are her linkages and sphere of influence now reduced to only Australian-based institutes ?

One can imagine that working with such a truculent and recalcitrant apprentice is stress-inducing and it would not surprise observers if Kelly or Pruett sought some form of escape or taking a politically opportune much-needed vacation.

Learning more about the nitty-gritty and speculating upon how best to save a reputation both Pruett and Kelly need to distance themselves from their past mistakes (or perhaps errors of judgment would be a kinder interpretation).

In matters of truth and of principles any veering towards compromise is eternally fatal. In trying to compromise with McIntosh (a mistake of the first water), Pruett and Kelly have undercut what both of them have espoused for years in regard to overnighting [i.e. sleepovers] for infants. The best possible course of action for Pruett and Kelly is for them to write an entirely new article where they can state their true views clearly and where they can refute McIntosh’s “checklist” for overnighting.

Only this will serve to exonerate them and forever erase their witch’s hats. Friends and colleagues must urge this course upon Pruett and Kelly without delay.

E N D

Footnotes:

[1] The fact that it’s a two-part article might suggest that the AFCC leadership pleaded with them to get the AFCC out of hot water by writing in the FCR and probably that’s why it was never peer-reviewed.

[2] A consensus is defined as a ‘majority of opinion’, or a generally held and widespread view.

[3] See “The care of very young children after their parents separate”, Aug 2014, McIntosh. J. http://www.psychology.org.au/Content.aspx?ID=5957

[4] See the Law Commission’s paper “The Field of Choice”

[5] See “The care of very young children after their parents separate”, 2014, McIntosh. J. http://www.psychology.org.au/Content.aspx?ID=5957

[6] See  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2551007/Peter-Andre-fiancee-Emily-MacDonagh-FINALLY-announce-named-four-week-old-baby-daughter-Amelia.html  Feb 2014. (Peter Andre, b. 1973)

Reference:

  1. Part 1: Parental separation and overnight care of young children, Part I: Consensus through Theoretical and Empirical Integration” by Jennifer E. McIntosh, Marsha Kline Pruett and Joan B. Kelly, April 2014, http://www.afccnet.org/Portals/0/PublicDocuments/CEFCP/2014_01_Jan_Pruett_McIntosh_Kelly_Parental_Separation_and_Overnight_Care.pdf
  2. Part 2: “Parental separation and overnight care of young children, Part II: Putting Theory into Practice”  http://www.afccnet.org/Portals/0/PublicDocuments/CEFCP/2014_01_Jan_McIntosh_Pruett_Kelly_Part_II.pdf
  3. “The care of very young children after their parents separate”, Aug 2014, McIntosh. J. http://www.psychology.org.au/Content.aspx?ID=5957 .

The ‘uniqueness’ argument

by Robert Whiston  FRSA      22nd June 2014

Only this week we have seen Penelope Leach, anxious to ensure her new book sells well, simplifying science for the sake of headlines and enhance her income. Leach rashly put her name to a claim that children aged under 5 could be mentally ‘damaged’ if they stayed overnight with their fathers.  Within days she was having to rapidly backtrack [1]  – as McIntosh has also been forced to do although at a lazier pace – but the initial damage has been done and the wrong impression only reinforced.

Blocking social reform is easy – simply invoke the ‘uniqueness’ of the child argument. We see it wheeled out every time a threat to the ‘status quo’ is perceived by the establishment.

In every sphere of the social sciences and civil law that so strongly influence domestic policy it is the hoary old chestnut that is supposed to lay a guilt trip on the modernisers. So let’s examine it.

At every level, moves to reform, or improve, or restructure, or even remotely transform any acknowledged broken system (child adoption, child custody, education, child abuse, child poverty, family rights, etc), are forever neutralised by this phoney neo-liberal concept of the ‘uniqueness’ of the child.

Double speak or double standards ?

For years fathers were told they could not have shared residence (as permitted by the 1989 Act), or “shared parenting” because it was not suitable for all children. The inevitable result was that no children were given shared or joint custody. This was justified by pretending that custody was awarded on a “case by case” basis, hinging on unique factors made available to the judge and bearing in mind at all times the very individual nature of each court case and, yes, you guessed it, the uniqueness of the child.

Completely overlooked, and very conveniently, was the preceding decade when ‘joint custody’, a forerunner of shared parenting was a common award in England.

The result after 1991 was a “one size fits” all custody awards of mother custody – some might call this a straight-jacketed approach to custody awards. Regardless of the term preferred the result was blatantly not an exercise in uniqueness for the child or an assessment of individual cases.

The systems defenders at the time (say, from 1971 to 2000) was that the sheer number of divorces and the numbers of children involved each year (over 100,000 children per annum), made individual assessments impossible. The only way to deal with such numbers was to seal a child’s fate by using a conveyer belt regime.

So, in England & Wales alone, over 4,300,000 children have, between 1971 and 2014, had their futures sealed in this most arbitrary of ways (100,000 x 43 years).

Officialdom’s Schizophrenia

At the same time as cutting off any practical chance of making ‘contact’ work better by giving fathers more time with their children, official initiatives sought to give the opposite impression by ostensibly seeking to improve the broken system with projects such as “Making Contact Work” (circa 2002) which, surprise, surprise, utterly failed.

It, and other programmes, failed because civil servants didn’t really want reform – they would be voting to move out of their comfort zone – and the veto committees, in this case PSA-8, were skewed with feminists, ideologically opposed to greater father participation.

In the case of “Making Contact Work” – and for all the Consultation Papers and position papers produced, together with the heralded ‘new guidance’ being issued, not a thing has changed for the ordinary parent in the following 10 years.

Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s the perennial justification for no change in law, and for rebuffs even to procedural reform (at all levels) was that the wonders of English law meant that ‘each child was unique’ and therefore each case was judged on its individual merits and each case was unique to the needs of the child and could only be met on a case-by-case basis which would automatically preclude a generalised approach.

However, that did not stop academics, politicians and civil servants from agreeing that, as a generalisation, it was a good idea to have fathers participating in their young children’s lives. This elephant of a contradiction seems to have passed over their heads.

In the intervening years there have been a host of initiatives by minister and official statements by government to include fathers in a child’s life, from the awarding of joint parental responsibly to seeking to improve the number of fathers who co-sign a child’s birth certificate where the parents are not married.

However, as Prof. Warshak remarks: [2]

  • ‘Our society maintains a curious double standard when it comes to encouraging hands-on shared parenting. For instance, we want Dads involved with their infants and toddlers – changing nappies, feeding, bathing, putting to bed, soothing in the middle of the night, cuddling in the morning. But when parents separate, some people mistakenly think that it is best for young children to spend every think that it is best for young children to spend every night in one home, usually with Mom, even when this means losing the care their father has been giving them.’

Becoming a “failed state”

We are by now all accustomed to the term ‘failed state’ to describe a nation where the consensus (internally or externally) is that it has lost control of events; has difficulty in engendering support from its citizens; but perhaps most significantly, its legitimacy has eroded to such an extent that its collective decision making authority is in jeopardy. [3]

It is a term that ought to be more widely applied to many Western democracies because despite opinion polls of 70% + in favour of shared parenting, governments still ignore the results (or are too frightened to act). As a consequence, increasing numbers of citizens are being alienated and no longer feel part of society.

Western ‘failed states’ also conveniently ignore the new social science research which would shape social policies in a new direction that would allow fathers’ greater participation the lives of their children. The result is a state where 50% of adults are increasingly becoming ‘disengaged’ from society and cynical of politics and of voting in elections. Politicians then express wonderment. Adults males who are not yet married can see the writing on the wall just as clearly as those adults males who are, or who have been, married.

If a country doesn’t know it’s actually a ‘failed state’ and its politicians and civil servants can’t see (or don’t want to see) that they have created a failed state then they cannot recognise its importance and cannot realise that by maintaining what they see as a “status quo” they are in fact turning back the clock.

If a country’s politicians don’t yet know they are presiding over a ‘failed state’ but a sizeable portion of the population does then the collapse will be that much more sudden and total, e.g. Iraq, June 2014.

Fig leaf or fatuous ?

Readers of a certain age might recall the Morton Report of 1956. This was an inquiry into divorce and lead to the Divorce Reform Act 1969. The two opposing sides were the Law Commission, which had produced “Field of Choice”, and a group formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury who published the alternative view “Putting Asunder.

Law Commission Report No 196 dismissed as unworkable the church and Archbishop’s view that each divorce should be examined as to why it had failed and to see if it was saveable. [4] Such a ‘post mortem’ into every individual divorce (i.e. an “inquest”), would take far too long and clog up the courts. It would be much quicker and easier to set the criteria as being one of a claim by either one of the parties of an “irretrievable breakdown.”

Thus when it suited the judiciary – and the academics behind the move, e.g. Prof Brenda Hoggett, Ruth Deech – “uniqueness” was very soon jettisoned in order to reach the desired goal. This is another example of the ‘Ends justifying the means’ and of setting aside uniqueness when it became an inconvenient obstacle to personal ambition of allegedly the ‘liberalisation’ of divorce and family matters generally.

Children are more important – really ?

‘Lip service’ is paid by officialdom to the notion that children and their welfare are at the centre of our concerns. This is so false on some many levels.

If children are so much more important than what parents think or want, why don’t children get the choice of seeing their parent when they want to and for as long as they want to ? Instead this freedom is taken away from them – in their best interests, of course – and times and dates are set by people and persons unknown to them, i.e. judges and CAFCASS officers (who may have seen them for only 10 minutes – if at all – and for say 2 hours, respectively).

In no way can this be called an exercise in promoting ‘uniqueness’ for the child or an assessment of an individual case.

Obstacles produced by the state and its organs proliferate as state agencies and welfare benefits proliferate. Clumsily, accidentally and/or deliberately these all deprive the child of their uniqueness.

  • All children are given the same Child Benefit – so no uniqueness there.
  • All children qualify for school meals – so no uniqueness there.
  • All children qualify for immunisation – so no uniqueness there.
  • All children qualify for free state education – so no uniqueness there.
  • All children qualify for dental check ups – so no uniqueness there.
  • All mothers with children are entitled to government subsidies – so no uniqueness there.

The list could go on and on, and so one has to question the validity of the concept of ‘uniqueness’ for children.

The ‘de fault’ position

When what we do for children and how we treat them, in nine times out to ten cases, is to treat them equally and in the same way, then that becomes society’s de fault position. The only way of breaking away from that is to claim some sort of ‘exceptionalism’ or ‘uniqueness.’ [5]

Society’s approach, therefore, is invariably to treat children ‘en bloc’, i.e. as a united unit, as a whole, en mass and not to attempt individual solutions.

Teaching is a prime example of the hollowness of this concept. Were we to adopt the ‘each child is unique’ approach we would have to have one teacher for each child, and we would not be allowed to teach in classes of 30 or 40 children. Indeed, we would also find we could not teach them the same subject at the same time – and if we did (or dared to) it would have to be tailored for each child’s “unique needs.”

Child poverty

All mothers with children are entitled to government subsidies and often in the form of Child Support – but this money is not paid to the child but goes to government and therefore it is technically not financial support for the child.

Divorce and single-motherhood plunges the non-family unit into income poverty – according to the official line. But while acknowledging this sad fact, government takes no active measures to prevent either occurring. The financial impact on the economy can be partialy assessed by looking at Child Support payments that are made every year – it is £1 billion a year industry (£1,141million as of April 2010). [6]  NB. Divorced and single-fathers who have the care of children are not similarly plunged into income poverty, government statistics reveal and yet no one asks why ?).

For while all mothers with children are entitled to government subsidies, i.e. state benefits, this is not true for fathers with children especially those with shared parenting orders. Fathers are not automatically entitled to state benefits. And if fathers are not entitled this can only mean that child poverty must, or should be, higher among those fathers. But is it ? And if its not, why the difference ? What are mothers spending the money on which they get but which fathers don’t ?

It doesn’t help that all governments have done nothing about implementing the Spawson Report. The head of the Child Benefit Policy section, Spawson, revealed in 1999 that the Dept of Work & Pension’s computer system (installed circa 1975) was the reason Child Benefit could not be paid to two parents when custody was “shared”, or claimed by two parents.

So ‘shared parenting’, legally possible in the UK since 1991, was defeated by an elderly computer which though it endured ‘upgrades’ was never programmed to share child benefit payments.

Conclusion

The argument premised on the assumption “that each court case is unique” (and therefore ultimately judges have to independently make individualistic decisions based on the evidence presented in court) is a fatuous one.

The argument that each case and each child is unique cannot be sustained. Do children in a classroom have one-2-one teaching or do they all share the same standard offered to other pupils in their class ? We all know the answer to that.

Similarly, the claim that “each family is unique” is also false. There is no reason to assume that this or another family is so unique that it shares virtually nothing in common with the thousands of families in these same situations.

When there is a sudden outbreak of a serious childhood disease, is each child treated in a unique way, or are they all given the same injection to protect them ?

Why do we do this ? We do it because we know that it is the best solution for the situation. It is the best outcome for the majority of children that is the determining factor. We do not argue that because it has an adverse reaction on, say, 2% of children we will not immunise the remaining 98% – yet this is in effect the argument used by those opposed to shared parenting – even when it is the best outcome for the majority of children.

The teaching and the medical profession both base all their decisions (efficacy, treatments, prescriptions, predictions etc.) on what’s best for children which is in turn based on what the data shows as what is best for the vast majority of children (in exams results), or for people in the clinical trials of new drugs.

Who but a dense ‘red neck’ – be he a judge or a Joe Blogs – would say, ” . . . . but I don’t want my doctor to treat me by relying on all the modern research at his disposal – no, I prefer he treats my case as if it was ‘unique’ and had never before been encountered.”

And, of course, the uniqueness argument has the bonus in that it serves to excuse all mistakes.

E N D

 Footnotes:

[1] “The inaccuracies peddled as respectable wisdom by parenting espert Penelope Leach do more harm than good” – Jack O’Sullivan, Guardian, 19 June 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/19/young-child-night-away-mother-parenting-guru-penelope-leach

[2] See “Nielsen and Warshak Respond to Penelope Leach”, June 22nd 2014 https://nationalparentsorganization.org/recent-articles?id=21778

[3] See ‘Fund for Peace’ organisation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fund_for_Peace

[4] See (11), Inquest, Para 3.10 & 3.11, Law Comm No 196 ‘the grounds for divorce’ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228985/0636.pdf

[5] For a more general interpretation of ‘exceptionalism’ see the historically recent creation of “American Exceptionalism” and its consequences http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

[6] Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission, Child Support Agency National Statistics, March 2010, http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/pdf/qss/QSS%20March10.pdf

Irish Divorce (and Custody) Practice

Getting the authorities and the establishment’s agencies to focus on – or even acknowledge –  the everyday failings in the system they administer is the gravest obstacle to progress we face.

It took more than 10 years to revisit the  Children Act 1989 in the form of the Children Act 2004, and a further 10 years later we have the equally limp-wristed Children and Families Act 2014.

Precisely what is wrong with these Acts is that they muddle ‘public law’ (where usually parents don’t care, i.e. are abusive or neglectful), with ‘private law’ where generally speaking both parents dearly love their children. Ninety percent of the content of these Acts deal with public law scenarios. The result is catastrophic for over 100,000 children per year enmeshed in private law cases but judged by public law criteria.

There is a desperate need for an exclusive Children Act for private law cases only, i.e. divorce cases.

“None so blind . . . . . “

There appears to be some sort of invisible impediment to reasoning when negotiating change with the usual authorities and the establishment’s agencies in charge of such matters. The mentality adopted is to stand on the hose pipe and then wonder why no water is coming out to quell the flames of indignation. These civil servants find it hard to find fault or even consider a hint of dereliction of duty or incompetence  in themselves – so we must look abroad for examples and  ask:

  • “Do you now see anything here that mirrors your own conduct ?”

Only by an arm’s length comparison might they at last see how destructive their present course has been and will continue to be if unchanged.

And we do not have to travel far or suffer the perils of losing the biting edge due to  translations:  we can turn to Ireland. In an award-winning essay, Roisin O’Shea writing for her Doctor of Philosophy lays bear the inner working of the broken Irish system and by implication (because their laws are so highly comparable to Britain’s, points a finger at our many Achilles heels).[1]  The research sample is highly reliable  consisting, as it does, of a large sample size of 1,087 unique cases.

At a time when CAFCASS is concerned – as is the UK government – at the length custody hearings take, in terms of weeks and months, it is à propos to recall just how fast a divorce takes:-

Length of time in the courtroom (Irish research):

  •  The shortest time in court was 30 seconds for a consent divorce (Western Circuit), no evidence was heard and neither litigant was sworn in.
  •  The longest full hearing observed was 5 hours.
  •  The average duration of all court sessions was 8.36 minutes.
  •  The average time for consent divorces across all 8 circuits was 5.3 minutes and 7.5 minutes for consent separations.
  • Contested divorces took on average 20.57 minutes and contested judicial separations took 16.79 minutes.

Clearly, this rate of rapid ‘disposal’ of cases by the divorce courts is creating a bottleneck further down the pipe line. And should we doubt these figures then it should be borne in mind that the project was funded by the Irish Research Council,  in  March 2014, and the analysis endorsed by external examiners, Prof. William Binchy (Trinity College)  and Dr. Aisling Parkes (University College Cork). For more about the report and its author see Annex 1 “About the researcher.”

It is a finding of this research paper that points to a failing in the wide discretionary powers given to the judiciary and applied by them, in separation and divorce cases” (NB. time and again, over 2 decades, fathers’ organisations have highlighted the almost total absence of specialised or on-going training for family court judges – RW). “This resulted in a considerable variation of approach and outcome. Rather than finding consistent decision-making patterns, it was difficult to identify any consistency of approach.

And the comments of the judges make for interesting reading. It is known that the emotional  drain of hearing cases day after day has affected a few judges in the UK – some of whom have retired into other fields – but the Irish judges here are far more frank:

  • Judge 9; “While the ‘in camera’ rule is necessary to protect the parties and their children from the public eye, the lack of any record is a significant downside. Would people really attend family law proceedings if the ‘in camera’ rule was lifted, no-one comes in for civil cases and very few people attend most criminal trials, apart from the high-profile cases”.
  • Judge 1 “Parenting agreements should be put together by experts, every case is different and a lot of court time can be wasted trying to work out individual arrangements.”
  • Judge 2; “The lack of judicial training in family law is an issue, particularly training to deal with children. Some form of training is required to assist judges deal with children directly when required, and to understand the dynamics of parental conflict”.
  • Judge 7; “I can manage short bursts, but if I had to do a long stint, I would go mad”.

The whole paper is worthy of special attention but given below are the most salient chapters, namely that of sub-sections 4, 5 and 6.

Extracts :-

Section 4.   Litigants

  • It is a finding of this research that the poorest outcomes were for men who were lay litigants or self- representing, followed by non-national lay litigants
  • 22% of all litigants were self-representing (lay litigants)
  • It is a finding of this research that litigants, who attend at court, are generally treated as peripheral to their case, by the custom and practice of the family law courts. Litigants must usually operate two steps (solicitor, barrister) removed from any discussion relating to their case and are seated at a distance from the legal players and proceedings within the court- room. Judges very rarely spoke directly to litigants where they had representation, unless that litigant was on the stand giving evidence. The formality and age-old traditions operated by the officers of the court, and the court itself, clearly created an uncomfortable and often incomprehensible forum for  litigants.

Quotations:

  • Judge 6; “It is extremely important to have researchers and court reporters in the court-room so that more information on decisions is in the public domain, particularly in light of the increase in lay litigants in cases”
  • Judge 9 “I would be very much against people representing themselves, you get people involved who don’t have proper training. Trust is also a huge issue, when a practitioner or officer of the court says something you can take that it is so, counsel have a high duty to the court. Lay litigants take a much greater amount of court time, instructing them in matters of law is hugely time consuming”.
  • Judge 7 “…there were two categories of lay litigants, those who were forced to self-represent due to economic circumstances, and the “jihadists” who become obsessed with the court process, coming frequently to court through multiple applications, who have become embittered about what they perceive as injustices or wrongs wrought against them, often believing there is some form of conspiracy”.

Section 5.  Children

In 95% of the cases observed the primary carer was the mother, and in 100% of cases where access was unilaterally withdrawn, it was done by the mother.

In no case was the primary carer sanctioned for persistent unilateral cessation of access in breach of court orders.

In 93% of the cases before the court, children under the age of 12 resided with the mother.

1% of children resided with both parents under 50/50 parenting arrangements

In no case were the views of any child heard directly by a judge, the views of the child were expressed through the primary carer or through court ordered expert reports where there were allegations of abuse. On several occasions counsel asked the court if a child could speak with a judge, in all instances this request was refused.

In no case observed did a judge ask to meet with a child in any matter that affected them, despite such rights being stated in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

• A finding of this research is that no mechanism currently exists for the views of a child to be heard by the court, where that child wishes for their views to be considered.

• In divorce cases where there were dependent children, 71% of the applications were made by women, and in judicial separation cases where there were dependent children 75% of the applications were made by women.

• Where child maintenance was agreed or ordered by the court, € 100 per child per week was set in 43% of the cases, in almost 1/3 of the cases it was set at € 50 per child per week. Child maintenance orders were frequently made by the court where the husband was only in receipt of State benefits.

100% of maintenance orders were made in favour of the wife; where the husband was the primary carer no application came before the court for maintenance from the liable wife.

“Joint custody” in the Circuit Court appeared to be merely an acknowledgement that both parents have obligations to provide for their children, it did not mean shared parenting relating to the day to day care of children. While the agreement or orders may commence with “joint custody”, it was usually followed by “with primary residence to the mother/father”.

Of great concern was the common approach of the court to make child maintenance orders where the payor, in 100% of cases the father, was only in receipt of State benefits, the average State benefit observed being € 200 per week. The national insolvency guidelines for 2013 state that subsistence level, i.e. the basic amount a single person requires to live on, as € 237.65 per week. The court, in the main, prioritised the legal and moral obligation on the payor parent to financially provide for their child/children, making orders that effectively brought payor fathers below subsistence level, and took no account of their financial ability to exercise “access” in terms of any transport costs and providing for the child/children during those periods.

  • [NB. a similar situation of ‘paternal poverty’ arises in Britain too. Elsewhere in the paper the dire situation is compounded when  it is stated: “Where the court ruled to allocate a greater percentage of the house to one spouse, in 95% of the cases the ruling was in favour of the wife”].

• It is a finding of this research that where court orders were made relating to access and parenting, that the outcome of those orders, was that the ‘tender years’ principle was almost uniformly applied.

Most of the judges interviewed indicated an intense dislike for the emotional context of family law cases, and found disputes over the arrangements for children to be extremely difficult, and sometimes distasteful

• All of the judges interviewed acknowledged that persistent breaches of court ordered access was a chronic problem, but did not believe that attachment and committal was an appropriate sanction where the primary carer was the mother.

• The types of access orders made, ensure that primary carers become the predominant parent, with very limited time allocated to the non-resident parent

The standard presumption operating in almost all courts, was that the status quo of children with the mother in the family home, should be preserved. Where a husband sought the sale of the family home, the response of the court indicated that the request was unreasonable. No alternatives were entertained, such as the possibility that the children could live with the father, or live with both parents, or live in rented accommodation post the division of marital assets. A very traditional view of property ownership was evidenced by the actions of the court, reflecting the Irish predisposition to acquire and own a home

• Eighteen ‘Section 47′ reports were reviewed in court, and four were ordered by the court. It was clear that there were no guidelines available to the court or the practitioners, as to what a s 47 should entail or indeed the required qualifications of the ‘expert’ who would carry out such an investigation. There was no consistency in the format or content of these reports, and only one judge took the view that s 47 reports should always be questioned and the opinions of the expert rigorously examined. Six of the judges, in court, indicated that they did not have time, or they did not see the necessity, to read the full report.

A standard access arrangement for the non-resident parent, primarily fathers, that permeated across all courts as a default position, was the policy of ordering access every second weekend, for a period of hours during the day, and once or twice midweek for a couple of hours. This arrangement did not appear to be informed by any social studies or child centred research, but seemed to be derived from the only experts that the court dealt with directly, those experts who created Section 47 reports [Irish law not UK]

Primary carers, the majority of whom were women, often sought to severely restrict or exclude the other parent from the lives of the children, on the basis that frequent contact with the non-resident parent distressed them, and in turn distressed the children. Where fathers were the primary carers they acted in a similar way in ‘high conflict’ cases.

Quotations;

  • Judge 1 “I believe that children should be left with their mother at least until they are 12 or 13 and I do not think it appropriate to order the sale of the family where dependent children reside there with the mother.”
  • Judge 7; “I am concerned that allegations of sexual abuse are at times being used as a very effective weapon, but a court is obliged to ensure that the HSE or the Gardaí investigate all such complaints”.

Section 6.   Delays and long lists

  • · Over-burdened lists, multiple adjournments and short hearings were found on all eight Circuits. The pressure of the list promoted inadequately short hearings and intense pressure to settle.

18% of contested cases [ 75% of which were divorce cases] were filed between 3 and 4 years before the case was heard in court

  • 10% of contested cases were filed between 4 and 5 years before coming to court
  • 6% of cases were filed between 5 and 6 years before coming to court
  • 3% were filed 6 to 7 years before coming to court
  • 2% were filed over 7 years before coming to court

58% of cases observed in Cork dated from 2007 or earlier

• The longest delays were observed in the Northern Circuit, where it was observed that there was more than one active divorce case 11 years or older.

Almost 1/3 of judicial separations or divorce applications in Cork and Dublin took more than four years to substantive hearing, meaning that a significant number of divorce cases took eight years or more to be concluded.

24.8% of all cases listed to be dealt with were adjourned, usually without explanation. Despite significant adjournments, lists were still over-burdened on all but 2 days of this research.

• Letterkenny in the Northern Circuit was the worst example of an over- burdened list where 79 cases were due to be dealt with in three days. The indicative time required for cases to be heard on that list was 10 days, on top of which there were 52 further cases “for mention”.

• Waterford Circuit Court had the second most extreme over-burdening of a list where 76 cases were listed to be dealt with in a four day period

• Dublin operated 3 courts on most days, yet the average list to be completed for each court had 16 cases listed on any day. There were usually 2 full hearings listed per day. The longest Dublin list had 31 cases listed, of which 9 sought adjournment without any reason given.

  • · A significant number of cases before the courts in the eight Circuits were dated from 2007 or earlier.
  • In Dublin  – 29.65% of all cases observed were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the Cork Circuit  – 58.65% were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the South Eastern Circuit  – 23.79% of cases were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the Western Circuit  – 9.43% of cases were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the South Western Circuit  – 8.82% of cases were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the Eastern Circuit  – 24.56% of cases were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the Midland Circuit  – 22.22% of cases were from 2007 or earlier
  • In the Northern Circuit  – 18.98% of cases were from 2007 or earlier

Quotations;

  • Judge 4; “The lists are over-loaded, the quantity of work for us is too great on any given day. The system has unreasonable expectations listing multiple cases for hearing and motions on the same day. The system would never function without barristers, the court is so inundated with work”.

One can’t help  but end this article by re-stating the grotesque abuse of power by the judiciary:

“Joint custody” in the Circuit Court appeared to be merely an acknowledgement that both parents have obligations to provide for their children, it did not mean shared parenting relating to the day-to-day care of children. While the agreement or orders may commence with “joint custody”, it was usually followed by “with primary residence to the mother/father.”

End of Extract

Annex 1

About the researcher –  Róisín O’ Shea is an Irish Research Council funded doctoral scholar who has received multiple awards for her research work including joint 1st place in the HEA/Irish Independent Innovation in Research Awards in 2010, was an Irish Research Council ‘New Ideas’ Awardee 2011, and  was awarded joint 2nd place with Prof., Marsha Garrison, Brooklyn School of law, in the ‘Innovating Justice Awards’, by the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law 2012. In June 2013 she was an international guest presenter at the AFCC (Association of Family & Conciliation Courts) 50th Annual Conference in Los Angeles, where she presented her paper “Exploring a World Family Justice Model”.

Following her Viva Voce in 2013, the award of PhD was recommended with “minor corrections”, by examiners Professor William Binchy, Trinity College and Dr Aisling Parkes U.C.C., who stated in their report;

  • “This is clearly a major piece of empirical research of a socio-legal nature, a most unusual achievement in Irish legal scholarship, where empirical research is in its infancy…well deserving of the award of PhD…”

Project aim:
To examine holistically, the family law system in Ireland, specifically in relation to judicial separation and divorce. Empirically based research forms the foundation for critical analysis, and subsequent development of, recommendations for reform.

Annex 2

About the research

The dataset contains cases observed from the eight Circuits from October 7th 2008 to February 24th 2012. The research sample consists of 1,087 unique cases, which were listed 1,179 times during the period of the research.

The percentage of listed cases observed by Circuit were as follows; Cork Circuit 17%, Dublin Circuit 29%, South East Circuit 29%, Western Circuit 8%, South Western Circuit 3%, Eastern Circuit 5%, Midland circuit 1% and Northern Circuit 8%. Half the dataset was taken from the Dublin and Cork circuits, comprising almost 46% of the sample, with a greater representation of cases in the Southeast based on the ability of the researcher to access those courts.

Family law lists were often cancelled, or amended with less days than initially scheduled, or the same judge previously observed was scheduled again to hear the list. The researcher accessed as many courts as possible within the limitations of (a) the lack of predictability of family law lists, and (b) the costs involved in travelling around the country. In the Dublin Circuit Court access was given to review case files, and 40 cases were selected, the oldest of the cases, in that Circuit, that had been observed in court during the research, filed between 2003 and 2006, and an in-depth analysis of the cases was carried out from the date of application to substantive hearing and orders made.

Footnotes:

[1] ‘Judicial Separation and Divorce in the Circuit Court’ Headline Findings; March 2014, by Roisin O’Shea, Funded by the Irish Research Council.

Marriage Rates in Europe since 1960

by Robert Whiston FRSA   Aug 28th 2013

If you’re not married, then you must be single.

Much has been made in politics and the media about marriage numbers declining and as an institution, marriage is said to be toppling into irrelevance if not obscurity in our ‘brave new world’ where we are brash enough to think we can re-write the rules.

Such is the arrogance of youth that we have to accept that they feel immortal, indestructible and invincible, whereas in reality – and perhaps in this instance – it is more a case of immaturity posing as maturity.

But what is the reality ? What do the numbers tell us ? Is a “Tsunami” about to engulf society and if it is from which direction will it come ? Will it overwhelm marriage as the de fault position of traditional society or will the tsunami devastatingly strike the liberal view that more cohabiting is best ?

If we in Britain thought we alone were the exception in having falling marriage numbers, increases in ‘fatherless’ children, and more births out-of-wedlock, then think again !

Our nearest neighbours, the EU nations, all have very similar patterns in marriage decline as measured by per 1,000 of inhabitants.

Having just completed a review of ‘same-sex marriage’ in Canada, it was clear from their datasets that Canada has seen a collapse in heterosexual marriages far some decades. It was a decline that started in 1945 and then became an upturn in 1960 but which reversed into a near terminal decline in 1970 lasting until the present day (see http://motoristmatters.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/43/ ).

French_2006Before looking at actual numbers and trend lines for the EU it might be useful if we take one exemplar to explain situation – France in 2006.

From Table 1 (shown right), at the age bracket 15-19 yrs one would expect very few women to have married. And so the figure of 99.75% for single women (highlighted in blue), in this category is not exceptional.

However, journey back 40 years and a different picture emerges. By looking at those women aged 55 or older (highlighted in blue), we can see that only about 8% are single indicating that, over time, spinsters have become married wives. To this extent of 92% of women in 2006 (and assuming they have not remarried) one can presume that 30 years ago they would also have been married.

Thus, the likely percentage of married women could be said to be at a 92% at age 20 – 24. Compare that with 2006. In 2006 it is single women that number around 92% (93.7%).

This transition from single-unmarried to married womanhood can be measured by the ‘average age of first marriage’ data which is collected by all government statistical agencies.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was common for couples to marry in their late teens or early twenties. If you were still unmarried by the age of 27 or 32 you  were considered overlooked,  too old, had  ‘missed the boat’ and been ‘left on the shelf.’ Presently, in the UK the average age of marriage is about 31 years of age, i.e. the age at which women first marry, with men a few years older at the time of first marriage, e.g. aged 34.

So if marriage patterns were today the same as they were in 1970 we would not expect to see the 99% and 93% of French women aged between 15 and 24 in the single status column  (see in Table 1). They would more likely be 15% and 8%.

Real life numbers show that only a small collapse occurs at age 29 – 32 (when they marry). Single women number decline to  71% (meaning that only 30% are marrying) and then to 45% by age 34. Thus, ‘fertility’ for women is compressed into a 10 year window (30 – 40 years old)  rather than a 20 or 25 year window. At age 30 – 34 yrs barely half of eligible single women (54%) are married with 45% remaining single. The consequences of this are manifold. Those who marry have fewer children because the women’s ‘biological clock’ usually expires at 40, and the state’s abandonment of “the family wage” means that two incomes are continually necessary for a basic standard of living. Similarly, unmarried mothers have only the smallest of families, 1 child usually, with state benefits or part-time earnings insufficient to finance two children and a home and nursery care costs.

EU Marriage Rates

The following graphic (Graph 1) depicts the number of marriage trend lines since 1960 among a randomly selected group of EU countries; Austria, Belgium, Czech Rep, EU_SelectDenmark, France and Germany.

Graph 1. Composite trend lines

Each country has its own national pattern but the overall downward trend is clearly visible, if a little chaotic.

Germany in the 1960s had one of the highest rates of marriage at over 9 per 1,000 inhabitants. The Czech Republic had seen a see-sawing, up and down, from 1960 until 1990 when marriage rates finally collapsed.

Denmark too experienced something of a recovery in the decades from 1980 to 2000. Yet in this small sample, Belgium and France have seen nothing but decline. With the exception of Denmark in the selected group of countries for this comparison study, there is a distinct flattening-off the trend line in marriage rates after 2000. This might indicate what whatever was the factor(s) influencing lower marriage rates had by 2000 ceased or have lost their power.

No where is the ‘flattening’ effect more vividly on display than in the data from Portugal (see graph below) as it shifts from one normalised ‘plateau’ to another. Sweden on the other hand has neither surged nor collapsed since 1980 but muddled along at a steady hardly fluctuating pace.

To better illustrate the overall trend across the EU since 1960 each of the countries listed in the Table below (Table 2) will later be shown individually as a graph.

Crude_marriage

Previous Policy Failures

One might have expected that the fall off in marriage rates and numbers would have been made good by increased ‘cohabitation’ rates and divorces followed by re-marriage. But this is not the case as this graph for England & Wales trends_in_marriage2demonstrates.

Graph 2. England & Wales

This particular  ONS graph (left) begins in 1931 and extends to 2011.

A surge in marriage numbers can be seen in the early war years (1938  – 41), followed by a collapse and then a recovery but which then declines from 1945 to the early 1950s. The numbers recover in the late 1950s and continue recovering throughout the 1960s – peaking in 1971-72. From then onwards marriage numbers fall every year regardless of economic impetus. At 250,000 weddings per annum in 2011 the Canada_Marrtotal is barely over 50% of the 1971 level (and the lowest since the 19th century).

Graph 3. Canada

The Canadian experience of peaks and troughs closely mirrors that of Britain (see Graph 3 left).

The immediate post war period, namely 1945 – 1959, was one of economic recovery from a war ravaged Europe to one of sustained increases in living standards and disposable income.

American and Canada had escaped wartime  industrial devastation and social dislocation and upheavals of millions of DPs (stateless or ‘displaced persons’). Yet whereas the marriage rate stabilised in the UK it fell sharply in Canada in this period (1945 – 1959). In part this could be off-set or attributed to the influx to Canada after 1945 of immigrants from Europe but it would have to have been on a massive scale to provoke such a  decline. Discussion of these aspects will have to be reserved for another occasion together with the impact of the Married Man’s Allowance and Child Benefit – state benefits for children born.

However, they can be mentioned here in passing.  In Britain, which was literally bankrupt in 1945 (having sold off all its 1,000 tonnes of gold bars to finance the war against Nazi Germany), the new 1945 Labour Gov’t of Attlee nevertheless embarked on much-needed social subsidisation. [1] High among these were the Family Allowances, Child Benefit and Married Man’s (tax) Allowance.

Child Benefit, for instance, was only payable to mothers and was worth 5 shillings (5/-) in 1946 paid per week for each child in a family, except (but crucially) for the eldest. [2] The “Family Allowance Act, 1945” (enacted 1946) assumed at the time that the ‘family wage’ paradigm would persist and therefore it was reasonable to assume that:

  • “ . . . ..  the family income would be sufficient to stand the cost of one child without hardship”

By 1947 Child Benefit was being claimed by 2-3 million families with more than one child and the cost the government, i.e. the tax payer, was £59m – a huge amount by the standards of the day.

Fostering a stable society led Attlee’s government to launch the Married Couple’s Allowance which by the time of its cancellation by another Labour government, was worth £6,535 to each recipient in its last year (2008). The Married Man’s Allowance of 1945 was an adjustment made on the husband’s tax coding independent of whether he was a father or not. It was a personal tax allowance set at the man’s highest rate of tax. The allowance was scrapped in April 2000 – again under a Labour government.

Individual countries

Below are depicted the disaggregated trends in marriage rates peculiar and unique to each country listed above (see Graph 1, and Table 2).

Austria – Austria has seen a seemingly never-ending decline year-on-year. Only in 2009 did the decline halt and the rate level off.

Austria_b

Belgium – Belgium’s rate held fairly steady until 1990 when it fell markedly only to ‘plateau’ out from 2000 onwards.

Belgium

Czech Rep – This is a most unusual graph with a saw-tooth profile from 1960 to 2000. By 2009 the rate in this country also appears to have plateaued.

Czech

Denmark – From 1960 to 1980 the marriage rate crashed and then just as unexpectedly is soared. for two decades in 2000 – before crashing once again.

Denmark_X

France – A small rally can be sen in 1960 to 1970 but there after it is all downhill with 2009 marking yet a gain a change in fortunes to a steady state pattern.

France_X

Germany – Is it something to do with the degree of industrial advancement that some countries have a more persistent decline ? From one of the highest marriage rates at over 9 per 1,000 it falls to under 5 per 1,000 by 2009 and then stabilises.

Germany_BB

Greece – Is marriage culturally stronger in Catholic and Orthodox countries ? Apparently, if ever once that was true it is not now. The decline persisted from 1960 to 2000, rose, then stabilised.

Greece

Holland – The Dutch have a laissez faire reputation in the social and domestic spheres, so one is not surprised by an overall decline in marriage. Yet between 1960 and 1980 there was a significant increase followed by an equally large decline in marriage rates, followed in turn by a levelling off.

Holland_pic

Italy – This is perhaps the most surprising country’s profile given its is the sear t of Catholicism. It to has seen an unrelenting decline and there appears to be no redeeming levelling off in the latter years, e.g. 2009 to 2011.

Italy_marr

Portugal – The characteristics of Portugal are of two plateaus divided by a collapse after 1990. There was no decline in marriage rates from 1960 to 1990 but in the 10 years from 1990 to 200 they fell about one third to 5 per 1,000. Thereafter, the second plateau shows no signs of a further decline.

portugal_marr

Spain – Spain may be on the same peninsular as Portugal and share a common cultural heritage in many areas but the decline in marriage could not be more distinctly different. Spain has been on a continuously downwards track from 1960 to 2011.

Spain_MARR

Sweden – Perhaps marriage has not been so de rigueur in Sweden compared with the traditions of other EU countries. This might explain why the dramatic fall seen in other countries is not so apparent in Sweden (limited from 1960 to 1980). If any thing there has been a ‘steady state’ situation followed by a rallying after 2000.

Sweden_b_marr

Turkey – Accepting that Turkey is not in the EU, it nonetheless provides us with an interesting comparison. Yearly data is not available for Turkey but we can see – and would expect in a Muslim country – that marriage rates are steadier than in the more ‘decadent’ West where ‘moral relativism’ is rife. Lacking consecutive data, a polynomial trend line has been introduced (shown as a curving black line). This gives the anticipated levels of marriage where the data is missing.

Turkey

U K – Technically this graph represents only England & Wales but as the overwhelming majority of the population lives in England & Wales, it provides an accurate guide. Graph 2 above illustrated the rises and falls from 1931 to the present day. However in the depiction, here, we see the turning point as 1971. From then on marriage rates have slumped with only a brief resurgence in 2010.

UK_marr

However, data supplied by ONS paints a quite different picture when All_marriagesinterrogated for “marriages per 1,000 population” as the Table below and Graph 4,  demonstrate.

Table 3 clearly shows that the normal way ONS collects data for marriage rates must be different from the method it adopts for “Eurostats.” Ranging between 10 and 8 per 1,000 it is significantly higher than the 6 and 4 (per 1,000) in the graph above.

UK_ons_marGraph 4. ONS based data (1998 – 2010 marriage rate)

It looks very much as if Eurostat’s methodology  results in an under-reporting of marriage rates in Britain and this could be echoed many times over in other EU countries.

Elephant in the room

One key aspect not tackled by the official sources of data is the influence of immigration on birth rates and marriage rates.  Common to all the data is the lack of any ‘ethnic dimension’. ‘Nation states’ are no longer that – they are now no longer homogeneous entities with a shared heritage. For Census purposes, many countries have 20% of their population which are non-European, e.g. Sweden with African and Muslim immigrants.

Gap_marrAnother wrinkle is the time interval used.

Graph 5.

Earlier, we saw at Graph 1 the Marriage Rate depicted for a selected number of countries but the decade sequence soon gave way after 2000 to yearly intervals, i.e. 2009, 2010 and 2011 (see Graph 5). When a blank, or interval, is inserted we see that the unrelentingly downward trend is not quite what it seems. From 2009 onwards the marriage rate levels off and, with the exception of Denmark which continues to fall, the overall trend could be said to have stabilised.

  E N D

Appendix 1

The following table is an extract from “Eurostats” data used in this article. If we look at, say, Iceland or Romania, we again see the same rapid decline from 1960 to 2000.

Bucking the trend is Latvia,  climbing from 11 per 1,000 to 16 in 1970, but then collapsing to just over 3 per 1,000 in 2000. Also  swimming against the tide and an ‘extreme’ case is Cyprus, which rose from 8 per 1,000 in 1970 to over 13 in 2000.

Malta can be seen to be an exception because, unlike the rest of Europe, it did not have divorce legislation until a few years ago.

Eurostats

References:
 
Footnotes:

[1] Gold plundered from conquered countries e.g. France, Belgium, Holland etc, was returned after 1945 but whether Britain had its’ gold returned or reimbursed is unclear.

[2] The mistake in later decades was to pay the Benefit to each and all children. The result was a decline from 2.4 children per family as the average, to the present day 1.7 figure.

Stanko gets knocked flat

by Robert Whiston FRSA  May 21st 2013

Betsy Stanko, as a relative newcomer to our shores, has rapidly made more than a healthy living in the last 30 years from a very singular view of society. She has risen up among academia and acquired a seat of influence at the round table where policy is made for the entire UK. Feminists, posturing as if the voice of all women have claimed a monopoly on interpersonal abuse for several decades. Now an authoritative publication has blown that concept (and her reputation) asunder.

Domestic violence and the industry that has grown up around it has been a ‘one way street’ since day one. Rarely does the other side of the coin get a mention – that of men abused and stabbed by their female partners and spouses. However, that did happen on April 14th this year when the ‘Independent’ featured a large article by Emily Dugan on the topic. [1]

She wrote of a man willing to tell his story; of him suffering 2 years of abuse at the hands of his girlfriend; and of being too embarrassed (and loyal to her) to report her to the police. In the end he had to sleep in his car for weeks before speaking to his local council, who found him a place at a men’s refuge.

All of this is very much ‘run of the mill’ for those small organisations trying to cope with the weekly avalanche of DV calls from men, but it would appear Table_4.08novel – even faintly absurd – to everyone else.

But in an ONS publication released in recent months (Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12) the truth has finally been acknowledged, namely, that men can suffer as much DV as women, especially married men as Table 4.08 shows.

Vindication

American import Betsy Stanko, who has risen through the ranks to be at one time DV advisor to London’s Metropolitan Police, has since 1999 (see ‘Counting the Cost’) maintained the ‘1 in 4 women are DV victims’ figure. She and a host of other alleged researchers now stand rebuffed and refuted by the new ONS data. Together with ‘Women’s Aid’ acting in concert with ‘Refuge’ they have suppressed the numbers of men suffering the same DV experience. Women’s Aid have known about the problem of male victims and funding for many years.

In 1992 Sandra Horley, the director of the Chiswick Family Refuge, was quoted by Isabel Wolff, as saying;

  • “Refuges for women are struggling to survive, and if we put across this idea that the abuse of men is as great as the abuse of women, then it could seriously affect our funding”. (‘Domestic Violence: the other side’, – by Isabel Wolff, The Spectator, 28 Nov 1992, p 24).

Vindication, if ever one were needed, of the validity of the stance adopted by fathers’ and civil rights groups has thus finally occurred. But the  confession was immediately lost to history.

The situation today

The fact is that last year an estimated 7,000 + calls are made each year by men seeking advice or even protection. The problem is that those 7,000 calls were handled by unfunded men’s charities and there is the problem of no funding for them on the horizon. For over 10 years Whitehall has repeatedly denied fathers’ and men’s groups access to the millions of pounds made available to women’s groups. As a result women’s groups are well-funded and can cater for what is required of them but men’s and fathers group have one of these advantages. Women’s groups can offer a Rolls Royce service that men’s and father’s groups can only dream about. Of the puny amount of money earmarked by government for male victims of DV all is sent to women’s groups to administer.

The resulting  provision of refuges for victims is clearly visible and amounts to overt ‘gender supremicism’ (see below).  Sex discrimination has allowed  the funding of over 7,500 refuges for women but no government finance has been made available for one to cater for  men and fathers.

provision

More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male according to campaign group ‘Parity’ which reveals in a  report that  claims of assaults by wives and girlfriends are often ignored by police and media.

In our culture – and within how our present society is constructed – it is easy to make the case for female victims and for everyone to be prompted into being sympathetic. It presses all our chivalric buttons.

But as a man it’s very difficult to say you’ve been attacked and injured (beaten up, I suspect is Emily’s journalistic florid flourish). Had a male victim of DV gone to any police station 10 years ago and he would have been told to ‘pull himself together’ and or ‘stop wasting their valuable time’. Maybe things are different now ?

Nicola Graham-Kevan, an expert in partner violence at Central Lancashire University,is right when she says:

  • “Society is blind to women’s aggression. The biggest disparity is women’s ability to seek help which makes men very vulnerable to false allegations. People often won’t believe that men are victims. Men have to be seen as passive, obvious victims with clear injuries, whereas, if a woman makes allegations, they are believed much more easily.”

This women, Dr Graham-Kevan knows her onions. She believes, and rightly, that the system needs to adjust to make it safer for male victims and their children. Why ? Because too easily false allegations made by a mother can result in custody being given to a dangerously abusive mother.

  • “The biggest thing for me as a parent is that children are being placed in significant positions of harm. It sounds anti-feminist, but I think we’re allowing women too many rights in the family court, because courts assume that the women are the best parent as a starting position, rather than looking at it equally.”

We all know that some fathers can be dangerously abusive and the system acknowledges this and takes stops to avoid the occurrence – but what procedures are their in place to prevent dangerously abusive women being put in charge of children’s lives ? None.

As one would expect the Home Office does not like to be seen as actively being gender racist in its approach. Ten years after repeated request to Whitehall and personal letters to Baroness Scotland, then in change of DV funding, the Home Office claims that:

  • “We recognise that men are victims of domestic violence, too, and they deserve protection.. . . and set up the Male Victims Fund to support front-line organisations working with male victims of sexual and domestic violence. We also fund the Male Advice (and Enquiry) Line.”

It’s just a pity that the organisations concerned are so unsuccessful in receiving central funding that one wonders just how magnanimous is the Home Office really. Is this yet more “spin.”

In all probability it is, the £150,000 given by government to a men’s helpline is, in fact, a sub-division of Refuge and run by Women’s Aid. It is these funded but politicised charities that then have the temerity to pass on some of its cases to the unfunded sector, i.e. to fathers’ and men’s charity helplines.

Funding withdrawn

Funding for male victims has never occurred – not even in the 1990s when the Merton based “MALE” male helpline was the only one in existence. MALE’s helpline and services were dependent on excess funds from Merton’s Women’s Aid of about £5,000 pa. When Merton’s Women’s Aid found their Table_4.08budget reduced in 2000, they stopped financing MALE’s helpline. This is not to criticise Merton’ actions but to highlight their equality approach, their recognition of an unmet demand and their gender neutrality given the funding restrictions. Table 4.08 is once again depicted here as it shows that not only ‘marreid men’ but cohabiting men endure  comparable levels of DV as are claimed for women, and even single men endure higher levels than they are usually credited.

Validation at last

So why all the fuss this time around ? the answer is simple  For a generation or more the mantra has been that DV is a gender problem faced by al women regardless of class social standing or income.  The actual analysis has clearly shown that this is untrue and that those who are disadvantaged by class, social housing, low-income or unmarried women are far more likely to become victims. This has been the view propagated by the men’s movement throughout that time.

PrevalenceNow there is statically analysis from the Home Office verifying that very position. Indeed, it goes further and says married men are assaulted more often that married women – remember only a few years ago the government line and that of Whitehall was that  while a few male victims did exist they amounted to only about 10% of all cases.

Well, the BCS of 10 years ago knocked that claim on the head with the revelation that 1 in every 3 DV cases reported was of a male victim.

New broom

ONS which has undergone a management shake up of late following continued criticism by some statisticians of its performance  and reliability published “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” in  Feb of this year (2013). [2] It is this publication that has ruffled feathers.

While Table 4.06 is interesting (“Estimated number of victims of intimate violence in the last year, by headline categories, 2004/05 to 2011/12 CSEW”), it is Table 4.08 that is truly riveting (see below). What grabbed headlines was the revelation that married men suffered more abuse at the hands of their partner than did married women (see emphasis in the Table shown below).

Indeed, the annual abuse rate among cohabiting couples is more or less at a parity of 3.2 and 3.3. This is very much of a surprise given data published earlier which indicated a higher rate of combativeness. in actuality it is high by 50% (e.g. 2.3% v 3.2%) but what is surprising is again the parity among the sexes.

What this table does show most clearly and earlier ones did not was the steep jump in likelihood of abuse when women fell into the single, separated and divorced categories. in these subsets incidences double and treble the rate found between married couples.

This is key since it was established and claimed by the fathers movement that being married was the safest not the most dangerous place for a women to be and yet feminist dogma since the 1970s has claimed he very opposite ,i.e. most dangerous.

The other key finding is that since 2004 violence, within a domestic and partner setting, has fallen by  around 20%. This fall is reflected in North America and the phenomenon commented upon by Prof Steven Pinker of Figure_3.1Harvard. The decade long decline in crime beginning in the 1990s was brought to the Prime Minister’s attention at the time (Tony Blair), started around 3 years later than the US but was just as dramatic.

The graph above (Figure 3.1) depicts the headlong tumble in all types of violent crimes beginning in 1996.                 

Muddied waters

Of the high-impact articles which appear to have light the touch paper on domestic violence this time around, three stand out:

1/.   “Domestic violence: ‘As a man, it’s very difficult to say I’ve been beaten up’, Independent, 14 April 2013.  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/domestic-violence-as-a-man-its-very-difficult-to-say-ive-been-beaten-up-8572143.html

2/. Full Fact, “How many people were victims of domestic violence over the last year ?” July, 2012 http://fullfact.org/factchecks/how_many_people_were_victims_of_domestic_violence_over_the_last_year-27625 

3/. “UK: More Married Men DV Victims than Married Women”, National Parents Organization, April 15th, 2013 by Robert Franklin  http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2013/04/15/uk-more-married-men-dv-victims-than-married-women/ 

Full Fact, by publishing in 2012 did not have the advantage of the latest number but did focus as a site dedicated to “Promoting accuracy in public debate”  on contradictions (the “confusing, seemingly conflicting”) claims that existed at the time with regard the number of DV victims. By way of example it cited The Times, dated 19th  July 2012 

  • “Domestic violence has fallen from a peak of more than one million incidents in 1993 to just under 400,000 last year, the crime survey said.”

It then gave The Guardian, (22nd July 2012) as an example:

  • “The latest statistics from the British Crime Survey show that every year in the UK more than 1 million women suffer domestic abuse.”

And not forgetting Ms. Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge (23rd July 2012), who maintains that there were more than double the number of cases for females alone last year.

  • “We are concerned that the British Crime Survey tells us that there are an estimated 1.2 million women who experience domestic abuse each year in the UK.”

(This sounds like a re-run of Dr Susan Edwards’ scandalous claim for Women’s Aid back in 1995. For those not familiar with The Sunday Times exposé of Edwards in Jan 1995 she was shown to have grossly distorted and manipulated DV data provided by London’s Metropolitan Police).[3] 

If we go back to another year, Sunday Sept 5th 2010 we find Denis Campbell’s article in The Observer, entitled “More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals” and a commentary about the campaign group Parity claiming that assaults by wives and girlfriends are often ignored by police and media.

Fake or fact

How, asks Full Fact, can all 3 be right at the same time ? Well, now we have a more definitive answer in the form of the ONS publication “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” – and, of course, we have always had the motive – securing next years funding.

Firstly, the headline that has attracted most attention of the one portraying married men as more often attacked than married women:

  • More married men (2.3%) suffered from partner abuse last year than married women, according to the latest British Crime Survey [see bar chart above]. Yet help is still much harder to find for men.

Number_ofOn the broader measure of ‘all victims’ the new gap is very small. Based on the 2010/11 British Crime Survey’s (BCS) self-completion module, 7% of women aged 16 to 59 were victims of domestic abuse in the past year compared with 5% of men (see p 62,  and ONS Table 3.01). [4]

As one would expect with family violence and abuse the BCS makes the valid point that despite using a self-completion module (which is acknowledged as by far the more accurate technique to deploy) under-reporting still exists (p. 62). In addition the BCS estimates that:

  • “ . . . . for the proportion of people who were victims of domestic abuse have decreased compared with 2004/05 for both male and female victims, but there have been no statistically significant changes in recent years (Tables 3.02 and 3.03).”

So this would suggest that the real figure for male victims was for many years much higher than acknowledged in the past when it was begrudgedly put as low as 10% of all DV victims.

Looking at the above chart (sourced from Full Facts) one wonders whether the ‘spike’ seen in the years around 1993 – 97 was actual, orchestrated, or a result of hysteria or sections of the public the succumbing to propaganda messages. Given the method used to count DV claims, ie based on phone calls logged, it is open to manipulation. It is surely  remarkable that with a population that has not only grown substantially in 30 years but that has attracted ever more diverse cultures that the level of incident in 2009 should be at the same level as 1981 (see dotted red line). It is true that stretching or compressing a graph can give different impressions so the reader is invited to return to the previous graph above listed as Figure 3.1 and compare.

The problem with DV conversations in latter years is that the numbers have been conflated with sexual offences and the number of personal abuse incidents has fallen. This no doubt is to maintain the revenue stream that some charities have become addicted to. Hence, one arrives at paragraphs like this in official publications, taken from the 2009/10 British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion module on intimate violence: [5]

  • “Women who were separated had the highest risk of both domestic abuse (22.3%) and stalking (11.4%) compared with all other groups by marital status. The pattern was slightly different for sexual assault, with separated women (4.3%) only having a statistically significantly higher risk of being a victim than women who were married (0.9%) or cohabiting (1.4%).”
  • 7% of women and 4% of men reported having experienced any domestic abuse in the past year (Table 3.01 and Figure 3.2), equivalent to an estimated 1.2 million female victims of domestic abuse and 700,000 male victims (Table 3.03). [NB in the following year this had become 7% and 5% – RW].

Twenty-nine per cent of women and 16% of men had experienced ‘any’ domestic abuse (any emotional, financial or physical abuse, sexual assault or stalking by a partner or family member) since they were 16. These figures are equivalent to an estimated 4.8 million female victims of domestic abuse and 2.6 million male victims.

And finally

At long last comes the other official concession about the socio-economic implications, lifestyle choices and circumstances dictating or at least being shown as a linkage with personal abuse incidents.

  • Logistic regression shows that those characteristics that contributed most to explaining the risk of domestic abuse were use of any drug in the last year, marital status, having a long-term illness or disability and the respondent’s sex. However, other variables such as household structure, age, tenure, occupation, household income, alcohol consumption and number of visits to a nightclub in the last month were also important (Table 3.08).
  • People who had used any drug in the last year had higher odds of being a victim of domestic abuse compared with those who hadn’t.
  • People who were separated, divorced or widowed had higher odds of being a victim of domestic abuse compared with all other marital status groups.
  • It is interesting to note that no characteristics based on the respondent’s local area were independently associated with the risk of domestic abuse.

On the ManKind Initiative website [6] they have picked out the following as worthy of special mention.

  • 1.1% of men and 1.3% of women were victims of severe force at the hands of their partner during 2011/12. Over a lifetime the figures are 6.1% and 13.2% respectively.
  • More married men (2.3%) suffered from partner abuse in 2011/12 than married women (1.8%)
  • More men in managerial and professional occupations (3.0%) in 2011/12 than women with the same occupation (2.6%)
  • Men with children (3.0%) are as likely to be victims of partner abuse than men without children. The figure is the same for female victims (3.5%)
  • Men in the North West are twice (4.5%) as likely to be a victim of domestic abuse than men in the South West (2.0%) in 2011/12

ONS’s “Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12” also vindicated this author’s long-held position regarding marital status:

  • Looking at marital status, single people had the highest chance of being a victim (6.6%). The logistic regression analysis carried out on the 2009/10 survey suggests that this reflects a difference from married people who cannot be explained simply by differences in the age profiles of these groups.

The picture gets worse for women who were ‘separated’. They had the highest risk of all for falling foul of domestic abuse in the last year at 21.0%. Likewise married women at 0.8% were the least likely to encounter a sexual assault but for single women it was 6.5%, and for separated women 4.1%.

By contrast single, divorced or separated men were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse (than married men) in the last year at 3.4%.

Full Facts concluded in 2012 that the large discrepancy between the figures quoted in the Times and the Guardian / Ms Horley can be traced to Fig_4_characttwo factors – the different definitions used and the different methods by which the data was gathered. (However, the 2013 ONS data means that conclusion will have to be revisited).

The Guardian’s higher figure is in part because ‘emotional and non-violent coercive factors’ are being considered, due to the more reliable data collection method obtained by self-completion for this particular type of crime. However the Times’s figure, while only referring to domestic ‘violence’, may still underestimate even this given the face-to-face nature by which the figures are gathered.

No more can it be claimed that DV / personal abuse a ‘gender specific’ crime.

No longer is it possible to say it  affects everyone no matter what their walk of life. The Tables above makes that abundantly clear.

Now we await a rebalancing of budget expenditure – a wait it would be unwise to hold one’s breath in anticipation of its arrival.

 E N D

Footnotes: 


[1] “Domestic violence: ‘As a man, it’s very difficult to say I’ve been beaten up’, Independent, 14 April 2013.  http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/domestic-violence-as-a-man-its-very-difficult-to-say-ive-been-beaten-up-8572143.html

[3] “Knocked for six: the myth of a nation of wife-batterers”, by Neil Lyndon and Paul Ashton, The Sunday Times,  29/01/95 (Copyright 1995. http://www.eastb.freeserve.co.uk/dv-panl.htm )

When ‘Euronews’ is old news

by Robert Whiston

Euronews’ deception about domestic violence

‘Ricardo’, a Portuguese contact and member of PEF (Platform for European Fathers), sent some information for my attention. It concerned a news item about domestic abuse broadcast on the Euronews channel entitled “Sweden’s gender-violence shame”.  It was so factually wide of the mark that the channel deserves shaming by a larger audience.

Euronews television channel had aired a claim in a ‘public information’ interview – or program-ette, that:

  1. “Domestic violence and rape kills more women than cancer”
  2. “Domestic violence and rape is more dangerous than cancer”

Euronews was created to be a counter-weight to the television dominance of CNN in the 1980s. The blanket coverage of the First Gulf War (1990 – 91), provided by CNN prompted some in Europe to want their own version – a multilingual, rolling-news channel. The ambition  was that the world could see global events viewed through European eyes. [1]

Euronews’ corporate campaigning slogan is “The pure info” (and presumably nothing but pure information), but that is far what it provides if “Sweden’s gender-violence shame” is any guide.

To ensure the channel’s financial stability the European Union signed an agreement with Euronews worth £25 million on Feb 21st  2005. Euronews thereafter undertook to fulfill a mission of “European information” for the EU and to be their official mouth piece. [2]

The claim that; “Domestic violence and rape kills more women than cancer” is not only factually untrue but a reckless misuse of privileged, publicly funded mass communications. It is also a claim that was issued by the UK’s Dept of Health in 2009 and annihilated.

          Cancer Deaths (England & Wales).

Cancer_deathsTo be Britain’s biggest single killer DV would have to consistently claim over 10,889 lives per annum as this 1998 Table of cancer deaths demonstrates. Instead, what we get are repeat proclamations by Women’s Aid and similar types that 2 or 3 women are killed every week, i.e. hardly more than 120.  A more in-depth article on the topic can be found at “How true are Domestic Violence statistics ?” (https://robertwhiston.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/27/).

Same old same old

Sweden’s gender violence’ where this claim was made, is a short (8 minutes) ‘pubic information’ programme that opens with a supposedly elderly, lonely woman, Eva-Britt Svensson, reflecting on her married life.

She is said to be the victim in this DV tale but Eva-Britt Svensson, aged 66, is also known for her life-long left wing politics and has held senior office in many left wing parties including Sweden’s Vänsterpartiet (1995–2004).

She was – until 2011 – also an MEP at the European parliament having been elected there in 2004. She is thus not unfamiliar with utilising the media and doing what it takes to get the message or ideology across.

In the interview she mentions her husband of long-standing and her two grown up daughters. Apparently, when he died in 2009 she felt she could “come out” and publicise his brutality to her so we shall never be able to hear his side of the story.

Wild blue yonder

Her version is that out of the blue he began slapping her, although she concedes that he tirelessly supported her throughout her political career, and that he ‘controlled’ everything including her bank account (was it a joint one ?). She says she left him 15 years ago (i.e. 2013 – 15 = 1998) but never spoke of it until he had died.

Seasoned readers of the power struggle exercised through claims of DV will at once recognise the pattern. It was very fashionable for feminists Dwokinespecially feminists authors, to reluctantly concede (but very publicly) that they too had been victims of DV from their husbands (but had not wanted to talk about it) and thus show solidarity with their readership.

Right: radical feminist and lesbian author, Andrea Dworkin

  • NB. Betty Frieden (circa May 2000) was the first radical feminist to admit that she had made up allegations that her husband was violent.
  • This was followed by Andrea Dworkin’s confession in the Linda Grant interview that ‘only last year’ (i.e. 1999), and at the age 52, she has been raped – yes, all of her !! [3]

Eva-Britt Svensson is well known for opposing Europe-wide restrictions on Eva_Brittfreedom of speech and of preventing perceived gender stereotyping. [4] She therefore cannot object to an exposé of Euronews and Kerstin Weigl’s falsehoods.

Euronews went to Sweden and spoke not only with survivors of domestic violence but with one of the journalists (Kerstin Weigl) behind a project called “Cause of Death Woman.”

Hen house arithmetic

WeiglJournalist Kerstin Weigl then takes centre stage in the videoed news item. It is she that claims that; “DV and rape kills more women than Cancer” and demands to know, “Why this issue isn’t this discussed more worldwide ?” (We’ve heard exactly this before from the UK’s Dept of Health some years prior – see above).

Her next claim is that; “DV is a global epidemic and a big, big society problem.” This either refers to the 23 women killed per year in Sweden or the very much higher rates of abuse found in the developing world  – on this point she leaves the viewer confused.

This claim has an old and familiar ring to it. In 2009 the UK’s Dept of Health (no doubt in the full grip of radical feminism), issued a press release stating that “Domestic abuse kills more women than cancer” etc, and hoped no one would question it. The BBC’s 10 o’clock News on March 2009 carried the ‘unchecked’ story that: [5]

  • “The Gov’t says incidents of DV have fallen substantially but that it still affects 1 in 4 women. Indeed, for women aged between 15 to 44 it’s the biggest cause of mortality”
  • “DV kills more women aged between 15 to 44 than anything else ?”

But some were unconvinced and some listeners to BBC Radio 4 brought it to the attention of the “More or Less” team, a  programme specialising in quoted numbers in the media. The Radio 4 team spoke to Colin Mayor, the man in charge of statistic on death and the burden of disease [6]at the UN World Health Organisation (WHO). He was asked to comment on world mortality figures. He confirmed that UN data showed DV and rape (combined) was only in 6th place – not first  (see also Annex 1).  Malaria, cancers and various tropical illnesses killed far more women than DV can ever hope to achieve.

The More or Less programme found the dubious prestige of being the biggest killer of women aged between 15 and 44 went to HIV / AIDS. This is followed by TB and then suicide.

The number of women who die from breast cancer, in 2008, was 12,047. This total does not include vaginal, ovarian, throat, pancreatic, lung, or any other type of cancer. A glimpse of the lopsided expenditure on female cancers v male cancers is shown in the Table below. It took a long campaign by a single newspaper and £1 million donated by the same newspaper for Prostate cancer to prod government into matching the £1 million.

Cancer_spendCancer Research UK notes that 99% of the 12,116 UK breast cancer deaths were women but that did not stop them treating the 1% of men who were diagnosed and still died of breast cancer (see Table at Annex 1 below). [7]

In the days of its flirtation with New Labour the ‘Guardian’ remained unconvinced (unlike today when it is positively pro-David Cameron). In Nov 2008 it published an article headlined “Stop looking the other way.” [8] According to the Guardian’s world view, “Violence against women is a pandemic more extensive than HIV/Aids” and they claimed, ‘statistics’ proved their claim. Unfortunately, untainted statistics proved the very opposite.

The ‘More or Less’ programme makers in 2009 had gone directly to the ONS and found the quoted statistics were “completely wrong.”

  • It is quite common for a rogue statistics to spread mutate and keep circulating says the programme’s narrator.

To get perspective there were in fact 484,367 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2011, a fall of 1.8 per cent compared with 2010. There are many lists available from the NHS an ONS of causes of death and all are premised slightly differently.

Two examples are given in the Annexes below as Tables 5.1 and 5.3. However, so extensive are they that they have been place at the very end of the article and so are itemised as Annex 3 rather than Annex 2  (see “Deaths [1] underlying cause,  sex and age-group, 2011”, http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/vsob1/mortality-statistics–deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales–series-dr-/2011/stb-deaths-registered-in-england-and-wales-in-2011-by-cause.html ).

Tunnel vision

The ‘More or Less’ programme were left apologising for the BBC and the ‘10 o’clock News’ team staff by admitting that they should have checked the claims, but to paraphrase the narration, in mitigating the same oversight committed others:

  • It not just news outlets that don’t verify their data – Kent police made a similar claim that DV was the ‘leading cause of death for women aged between 19 and 44.
  • “The Guardian” says that globally violence against women, not just DV, was the leading cause of death among women aged between 15 and 44.”
  • This claim mutates as it circulates. A less virulent strain of deception play on the public claims that DV is the leading cause of morbidity (i.e. ill health) among women aged between 19 and 44.

And it is this last point of a “virulent strain mutating” that has led onto a situation where some years later (2013) a Swedish journalist perpetuates the disinformation (defined as information deliberately intended to mislead).

To paraphrase Swedish journalist Kerstin Weigl, she continues:

  • Until a few years ago, violence against women in Sweden was almost a hidden subject even in a country often rated number one when it comes to gender equality.
  • And violence is on the rise. Every three weeks a woman is Sweden is killed by a man close to her. Last year, the police said a total of 35 thousand cases of violence  [but not lethal -RW] were reported.

This is an “interesting” observation or assertion since statistics in all the developed worlds point to a marked decline in DV levels. Euronews went to Sweden – which they would have us believe is bucking the world trend – and spoke with survivors of domestic violence.

So what is the biggest killer ?

Dealing with the frequently cited statistic which states that “domestic violence is the leading cause of death or injury for women aged 15-44” official statistics do not confirm the assertion.

For instance, in the year 2007, nearly 6,000 women aged between 15 and 44 died.

  • Over 2,000 of those deaths were due to cancer and other tumour related illnesses (a perspective on cancer death statistics for 1998 see Appendix B).
  • Approx. 1,100 women died of “external causes”, which include DV but more importantly, assaults of all types, accidents, falls, car crashes, suicides etc etc.

This leaves approx 3,000 deaths to be divided up between all the other possible causes of death for women, including childbirth, kidney failure, alcoholism, drug addictions, heart attacks, pneumonia, hypoxia, meningitis, breast implants etc., etc.

Dealing with the ‘global’ claim, the programme then consulted Prof. Slivia Walby, of Lancaster University, who holds the UNESCO chair for gender issues and violence. When asked about levels of violence against women she clearly stated that UK statistics showed that DV amounted to only 4% of women per annum –  and if one was more restrictive, i.e. to purely physical violence against women, this would fall and represent 3.4%.

Prof. Slivia Walby, author of “The Future of Feminism”(see Appendix C), went on to explain that:

  • “There is not a ‘crime code’ for DV [*] and statistical researchers have to rely on interpretation by the police which could otherwise be an assault on a man by another man and not a woman at all.”

All crimes in England & Wales have an official Home Office ‘crime code’ [*], this means that often the figures published for DV are in effect filtered and approximated by researchers in the process of interpretation and are at best “best estimates.” An exception to this is HORS 191.

The 1 in 4 mantra

So where did these statistics – and the infamous 1 in 4 come from ?  More or Less contacted the Home Office as the most obvious source. The Home Office sheepishly replied that the figure was used only for “illustrative purposes”[what ! !  ? ? ], adding only that the  “ . . . more than cancer”  figure first appeared a World Development Bank (“World Development Report”) in 1993.

This is yet another attempt at disinformation. The infamous ‘1 in 4’ figure is over a whole life time and the actual yearly rate is a more sensible 2% – 4%. The “World Development Report”, published by WHO contains estimates from countries that have no reliable statistical service and in many instances no statistical service at all.

Undeterred a March 2005 Home Office document (“Domestic violence; a national review“) pin-pointed that: [9]

  • “For women aged 19-44, domestic violence is the leading cause of morbidity, greater  than cancer, war, and motor vehicle accidents. 89% of the victims who suffer sustained domestic violence are female, however we also know that domestic violence can affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and male victims.”- Page 2

Battling an alliance

From this 2005 national review the government’s action on domestic violence is led by an Inter-Ministerial Group on Domestic chaired by Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland, QC (page 3) and again the claim is made that “over the last thirty years domestic violence in the UK has gone from being a largely unspoken subject” (see Kerstin Weigl above).

The government of the day had by this time formed a club, the Corporate Alliance against Domestic Violence, whose members included, for example, representatives from AOL/Time Warner, BBC, KPMG, Vodafone, Department of Health and NHS Employers, together with The Body Shop International and the media industry (see http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/18868/1/Matczak-A-18868.pdf , 2011). [10]

By the time we reach page 7 we learn that £32 million has been provided for improvements to existing and new refuge places through the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s budget for the Homelessness & Housing Support Directorate and the Housing Corporation.

Compare those expenditures (on women’s needs) with that of cancer research:

  • “During 1997-98, the MRC (Medical Research Council) spent £691,000 on lung cancer; £18,000 on prostate cancer; £3,328,000 on breast cancer and £1,469,000 on bowel cancer. The MRC’s figures relate to research specifically into these named cancers, and research which has been classified as being undertaken in one of these sites may well have implications in another and vice versa. As a guide, the MRC spent £13.2 million on cancer in 1994-95.

As always ‘The Guardian’ remained unconvinced of the inconsequentiality of DV in the world scheme of things.

In Nov 2008 it published an article headlined “Stop looking the other way.” [11]  According to their world view “Violence against women is a pandemic more extensive than HIV/Aids” and they claimed, ‘statistics’ proved their claim:

  • “A small minority of victims of domestic violence and murder are men but in four out of five domestic murders it is women who are victimised. Just look at the statistics. Violence against women is a pandemic more extensive than HIV/Aids. It is the main cause of death and disability globally for women aged 15 to 44 – rape and gross bodily violence cause more death and permanent disability than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria combined.”

As demonstrated above, what the Guardian is pleased to call ‘ststicsics’ are anything but dependable.

In the above quote, death has been joined by disability as well as rape and DV as the measure to be used when assessing the lot of women, and allegedly “worse than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria combined.”

Women more important ?

The commonplace claim made by women’s groups in the UK is that approx. “2 women a week are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner” in any given year.  This is entirely true, but it tells only half the story. What us not stated is that the figure for men killed by their partner is approx. more than 1 per week.

And just to underline how self-centred women can be (e.g. 10 per million), they want to ‘elbow out’ of consideration the number of children murdered every year (see graph below marked Figure 4.4).  This number is also at about 1 or 2 a week but as the table implies it is mostly mothers perpetrating the death (90 per million) in the first 12 months of life by external causes of their young children.

figure44england_wales_homicidesbyageofvictims2000-01

The Table also shows that males of whatever age, risk being a victim of homicide many time greater than do women.

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References:

  • ‘Domestic violence’

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/more_or_less/8051629.stm  see also http://www.equalparentingalliance.org/2009/05/domestic-violence-the-true-picture.html

BBC Radio 4, Friday, 15 May 2009

“A frequently-cited statistic says domestic violence is the leading cause of death or injury for women aged 15-44. . . . . .  It has been widely reported and appears in government reports. We explain why it is completely wrong.  . . . . And we ask how we can get better data on domestic violence.”

  • “Stop looking the other way”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/25/domestic-violence-gender 

Guardian, Tuesday 25th November 2008

” . . ..  . A small minority of victims of domestic violence and murder are men but in four out of five domestic murders it is women who are victimised. Just look at the statistics. Violence against women is a pandemic more extensive than HIV/Aids. It is the main cause of death and disability globally for women aged 15 to 44 – rape and gross bodily violence cause more death and permanent disability than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria combined.”

  • Factoid – definition

A factoid is a questionable or spurious (unverified, false, or fabricated) statement presented as a fact, but without supporting evidence.

  • Euronews

Britain’s ITN effectively owns Euronews when it bought a 49% stake in the company.

Annex 1

 
Breast_cancer
 

Annex 2

Extract from ‘The Future of Feminism’, by Sylvia Walby (formerly of Leeds, Bristol, LSE and now Lancashire Uni).

  • “In The Future of Feminism, Sylvia Walby offers a provocative riposte to the notion that feminism is dead. Substantiating her arguments with evidence of the vibrancy of contemporary feminism in civil society and beyond, she provides a succinct yet comprehensive critical review of recent treatments of feminism explaining why they have got it wrong.
  • The book provides the definitive account of feminism’s new and varied projects, goals, alliances and organizational forms, including feminism as a global wave. It offers engaged accounts of feminist activities across a range of domains in the economy, polity, violence and civil society. Successful feminist projects are not always named as feminist, sometimes being mainstreamed into coalitions with social democratic and global human rights activists. Feminism is now global, though also taking local forms, and these new coalitions are the basis for the future of feminism.”

 Annex 3

 Deaths1: underlying cause,  sex and age-group, 2011: Chapter III

The following Tables are highly abridged since each of them run on for several pages and it is technically impossible to up-load them to this page.

Table_5.1

Cont’d

Again, the following Table is highly abridged since it  runs on for several pages and it is technically impossible to up-load them to the whole Table. page.

Table_5.3

Footnotes: 
 

[3] “Take no prisoners” The Guardian, 13th May 2000  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2000/may/13/politics1 And ‘She never hated men’ by Katharine Viner, The Guardian, Tuesday 12th  April 2005. “ . . ..  Then, in 1999, Dworkin was drugged and raped in a hotel room in Paris. It was an attack that was to devastate her.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/apr/12/gender.highereducation. Dworkin (b 1946 – d 2005).

[5] BBC More or Less Friday, 15 May 2009. UK

[6] Global burden of disease health topic http://www.who.int/topics/global_burden_of_disease/en/

[8] “Stop looking the other way” Tuesday 25 Nov 2008 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/25/domestic-violence-gender

[10] See Chp. ‘Domestic Violence Policy Development in England 1990 – 2004’ and ‘development 2005 – 2011’

[11] “Stop looking the other way” Tuesday 25 Nov 2008 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/25/domestic-violence-gender

Deviant behaviour

 By Robert Whiston  FRSA   Feb 2nd 2013

France – Gay marriage and adoption

As British politics gears up yet again for another ‘push’ to promote solely gay and lesbians rights to marry within a religious setting, and not just have civil partnership agreements, France and America are doing the same, and in so doing we are beginning to lose sight of how and where all this started.

Wolverhampton born Marie Miller MP, bizarrely once shadow Minister for Families (in 2007), had the thankless if not divisive task of breaking the news on Dec 11th  2012 to surprised Conservative MPs that the coalition government was to introduce a gay marriage Act.

Speaking only a few days earlier at an event in Redditch, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, signalled his government’s intention saying:

  • “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.
  • “Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”

There had been no ‘lead-up’ or preamble or mention in the party’s election manifesto. And as for “a great institution” had he never fully understood the religious and cultural concept when he married ?

The proposals appear to have come like a bolt from the blue and left his backbenchers seething. Where is the quid pro quo of the promised  re-introduction of the Married Man’s Allowance ?  No where to be seen. Surely Cameron is smart enough to know not to divide his party or alienate his grass-roots supporters who turn out the vote for him ? But apparently not. So is this an aberration or deviant behaviour by the PM ?

In contrast, France is actually being convulsed by the arguments for and against, while here in the UK people have given up on having their opinions listened to, and backbench MP are said to be either seething or ‘incadencent’.

The UK government, in true Tony Blair fashion, has  from the beginning been ‘economical with the truth’. It claims that:

  • “During the course of both the consultation and the drafting of the legislation, the Government has had numerous and detailed discussions with stakeholders about the provisions within the Bill. . . “

In reply to this claim the Catholic Church, and others, e.g. pro-life stakeholders etc, are adamant that this never happened:

  • The only consultation has been of the meaningless type where the Government announces in advance that it will, whatever the cost to – or views of – the people, churches etc. push through same-sex marriage, though it will listen to views as to how to ‘implement’ this.

Having been on several stakeholders groups over many years, this I know is how they operate and how they then claim, despite vehement opposition, that a favourable consensus actually existed.

Bemusingly, the French socialist administration of François Hollande is citing Cameron and Britain as the reason it is bringing forwards its own highly unpopular gay rights legislation. France’s parliament, against popular street demonstrations (with some organised by the Catholic Church),  is currently adopting new laws to legalise not only gay marriage but also gay adoption of babies and young children. This seems unnecessarily elaborate when the French already have “PACS” (pacte civile de solidarité, or civil solidarity pacts) which replaced the ‘certified concuninage notoire,’ regime. PACS is a form of civil union between two adults, which can be adopted by either same-sex or opposite-sex couples. It brings rights and responsibilities to the parties, but less so than marriage. (NB in 2012, 94% of all PACS were between heterosexual couples meaning only 6% of same-sex couples used the protection it offers).

Too much of a good thing ?

In defending his position David Cameron maintains that homosexual marriage will not undermine normal marriage – but he has forgotten the dynamics of “Pareto efficiency” – succinctly put:

  • “no one can be made better off without making at least one individual worse off”

One might think that one can never have too much of a good thing but this is not true. There is another natural law that kicks-in namely ‘Gresham’s Law’ where bad money chases out good. Put more prosaically:

  • “When a government compulsorily overvalues one type of money and undervalues another, the undervalued money will leave the country or disappear from circulation into hoards, while the overvalued money will flood into circulation.”

Life and the social sciences mimic all too many aspects of economic law. Put another way, the well-documented story of the world’s wealthiest ruler of the 14th century – Mali’s emporer Mansa Musa (c. 1280 – c. 1337), can here serve as more than just a parable.

Two thirds of the world’s gold came from his empire of West Africa. When he passed through Cairo in July 1324, enroute to Mecca, he was reportedly accompanied by a hundred strong camel train many carrying gold bars and coins. His procession was reported to include 60,000 men and 12,000 slaves who each carried 4-lb. gold bars.

On his arrival he gave away so much gold to the general population  that it destabilised Egypt’s economy. The gold price in Egypt was depressed for over a decade leading to business failures and personal bankruptcies. For a 12 year period the gold price in Egypt (and worldwide), was depressed and in an attempt to adjust to the newly found wealth that was spreading throughout the local population the result was ‘inflation’. [1]

To rectify the gold market, Musa was forced to borrow all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. So trying to make all men equal can backfire and can carry a hefty price.

Covering for Clegg ?

Only when you begin adding up these types of events does one begin to understand why political pundits are given to stating that David Cameron is ‘under the cosh’ and not master of his own destiny.

If David Cameron is not master of his own destiny it is not for want of trying. He does not have a majority in the House and his partner, Clegg, more than a little accident prone with one foot in mouth gaffe followed by another (‘no student fee’ etc).

Stonewall, the gay activist group, struck a deal with New Labour before the General Election in 1997 to pass pro-gay legislation if elected. The Blair era was a golden age for pro-gay Bills.

But it was Clegg’s clumsy ‘bigot’ speech in Sept 2012, that probably gave rise to legislation for gay marriage, rather than any second secret deal with the Conservatives. In a speech written and distributed by his office. Mr Clegg had hoped to cash in on the success of the London Olympics by suggesting that its success had “helped make the case for allowing homosexual couples the same marriage rights as heterosexuals.” Mr Clegg planned to say:

  •  “Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we ‘postpone’ the equalities agenda in order to deal with ‘the things people really care about’. As if pursuing greater equality and fixing the economy simply cannot happen at once.”

In a Telegraph poll on 11 Sep 2012 which asked; “Should Nick Clegg step down for branding those who oppose gay marriage as bigots ?” over 68% of respondees agreed with the option:

  • “Yes, people feel strongly about the issue and it’s wrong to label them as bigots.” [2]

Fiscally, the demands of the homosexual community have in large measure been met. They too can benefit now from Inheritance Tax protection but married man with the added burdens of wife, children and mortgage has yet to receive his confiscated Married Man’s Allowance or recognition that his covenant with the state saves the state billions of pounds in subsidies.

Re-defining marriage

The French debate now underway (2013) over gay marriage has redefined marriage as being between two adults and not, as formerly, as between a man and a woman. This begs the question why did the ancients of any civilisation you care to name not see the light of our enlightened politicians of today ? Why did they “stupidly” limit human freedom (if that is what it is) to marry as being between a man and a woman ?

The answer is that sexual congress usually results, at some future point, in pregnancy and child-birth. Civilisations throughout eternity have realised that while conception is easy child maintenance is not.  They  have also realised that while hedonistic lifestyles might be fashionable for a cohort, one of the first duty is for the state to reproduce itself and then defend itself. To do this one has to somehow ‘tie in’ the father to support the mother and child otherwise she becomes a burden on her immediately family or the state. Marriage, in whatever guise is the state’s instrument to formalise this process. The married man is the ‘engine of wealth creation’ and out -performs single men. And if this communal wealth attracts envy  it can be protected by force of arms, generation after generation. An army made up from sterile same-sex couples, i.e. unable to reproduce,  would not survive 2 or 3 murderous Sparta-type engagements with an enemy, e.g. Thermopylae, before being wiped out. All this is glaringly obvious and it is painful to have to point it out to politicians.

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[2]“Nick Clegg’s office attempts to withdraw ‘bigot’ comment about opponents of gay marriage”,Telegraph,  11 Sep 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/nick-clegg/9536368/Nick-Cleggs-office-attempts-to-withdraw-bigot-comment-about-opponents-of-gay-marriage.html