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Turner urges 'full story' on domestic violence

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Turner urges 'full story' on domestic violence

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner acknowledges the concerns from top health researchers that government departments have been ideologically driven in presenting and reacting to New Zealand's domestic violence problem.

"Intimate partner violence is a huge problem, and it is crucial that the research on domestic violence is not selectively chosen by those writing policy," says Mrs Turner.

New Zealand's two major research studies on the topic, the Christchurch Health and Development Study and the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, both conclude that the most common scenario of partner violence is when both partners lash out at each other.

"There seems to be subjective framing of the partner violence problem. Much of the work from our social ministries appears to only look at abusive behaviour by men, disregarding the research that shows significant perpetration by women.

"Subjective and selective use of figures such as this gives a distorted picture of what is occurring in the homes of New Zealand families, which is very unhelpful.

"Of course, the figures show that women are more likely to killed in the home at the hands of their (ex) partners, and this is a very serious problem.

"I would think that one way to reduce major, sometimes fatal, violence occurring is to prevent the first instance of violence in any relationship. Ignoring and trivialising violence by women does nothing to solve the problem, and is a disservice to the victims."

Professor David Ferguson's Christchurch study concluded that indicators such as family upbringing, social environment and social indicators more accurately predict the perpetrators of family violence than just focusing on gender.

"However the Ministry of Social Development-led campaign, "Changing attitudes and behaviour" for which the Government forked out $11.5 million and the Families Commission $2.5 million, will focus solely on changing the attitudes and behaviour of violent men, but completely ignores violence by women in relationships.

"This is after the intro to the campaign states that 'We need to condemn violence whenever and wherever it occurs.' I agree; so I question why our policy to combat family violence is to ignore violence done by half the population.

"Why should we not try to change the attitudes and behaviour of ALL perpetrators of violence ? it seems that this is sending the message that we tolerate violence from women against men.

"I simply want to see objectivity surrounding the issues involved, as only once we properly understand the patterns of violence in the home, can we begin to formulate the best responses to end all domestic violence," says Mrs Turner.

ENDS


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