Why does domestic abuse happen?
Equal in law: unequal in life
Women are supposed to be equal under the law. The UK has had three women Prime Ministers and Scotland’s First Minister is a woman; there are more women at college and university than ever before. Indeed, more than half of all medical students are now women, and there is a similar positive pattern for other professions. For some women, the glass ceiling has definitely been broken.
Yet movements like #Time’s Up and #MeToo tell another story about women’s experiences. Domestic abuse and hate crimes continue to rise. Rape convictions are at an all-time low, whilst the number of female homicide victims is the highest since 2006. At least 2 women a week are murdered by their domestic partners (indeed, there are many more deaths if the suicides of victims are counted). Assumptions of equality crumble in the face of such horrifying statistics. A toxic online environment allows misogyny to flourish unchecked, and the inappropriate and offensive statements of some politicians serve to encourage and normalise such views. It is not a coincidence that, in the age of social media, rates of violence against women have risen.
This is the context in which the incidence of domestic violence continues to grow. The scale of domestic abuse which women experience demonstrates how pervasive gender inequality continues to be.