Istanbul Convention and domestic violence

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Istanbul Convention and domestic violence

Justifying itself on a single piece of antiquated dogma, the Istanbul Convention actively discriminates against men and privileges women. It creates first-class victims of violence and domestic abuse (female), and second-class victims (male).

Here are a few examples of what this Convention contains:

Preamble
Recognizing that the realization of de jure and de facto equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women;

Recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women;

Recognizing the structural nature of violence against women as gender-based violence, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

Article 3: Gender shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviours activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men… Gender based violence against women shall mean violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately.

Article 4.4: Special measures to protect women from gender-based violence shall not be considered discrimination under the Convention.

Article 5.1: Parties shall refrain from engaging in any act of violence against women and ensure that State authorities, officials, agents, institutions and other actors acting on behalf of the State act in conformity with this obligation.

Article 5.2: Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparation for acts of violence covered by the scope of this Convention that are perpetrated by non-State actors.

You can read the full text of the Istanbul Convention here.

The Convention’s ‘recognisings’ and ‘understandings’

In its preamble, a number of ‘understandings’ are presented as the foundational justification for every proposition which follows in the Convention:

Recognising that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women;

Recognising the structural nature of violence against women as gender-based violence, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

And Article 18.3 proposes:

Parties shall ensure that measures taken pursuant to this chapter shall: – be based on a gendered understanding of violence against women and domestic violence and shall focus on the human rights and safety of the victim;

None of the above mentioned ‘recognisings’, nor the ‘gendered understanding’, proposed as justifying the Conventions propositions, represent fact. They are here cited as if they were universally accepted truths. They are not. They represent no more than an opinion; an opinion which, these days, many more would disagree with, than support.

Male victims domestic violence
Male victims of domestic violence (Credit: Brandon Gaille)

As theorised four or five decades ago, the idea of an intangible, primeval imperative driving male violence against women is of historical interest, and certainly warrants study; but it is a notion primarily filed today as something someone made up in the heady, over-reactive tumult of the late 1960s. It is a piece of old 1960-70s academic feminist ideology which has long since been challenged and discredited (See below) – not least, as far back as the 1970s, by the founder of the Women’s Refuge Movement, herself, Erin Pizzey.

The Istanbul Convention’s far-reaching measures rest entirely on a foundation of long-discredited, late 1960s feminist ideology and pseudo-analysis.

Eyebrows must be raised, and serious questions asked, therefore, when the only thing produced by way of justifying the Convention’s array of discriminatory proposals, is this single unsupported piece of pseudo-analysis. This opinion provides the sole plank on which the entirety of the Convention’s programme of far-reaching measures is held to be justified.

If the opinion is not verifiable… if it is susceptible to even the most tentative of questionings… then all justification for the Istanbul collapses.

And the convention here, and throughout, is not suggesting it is a proportion of violence against women that may be interpreted as being ‘gender-based’. It provides no basis for making a distinction between so-called ‘gender-based’ violence, and ‘non-gender-based’ violence against women. (It is, in any case, beyond one’s imagination, as to what means or measures anyone might use to demonstrate beyond doubt, that one act of violence against a woman is gender-based, while another is not.) The Convention proposes that all violence against women is ‘gender-based’ And that no violence against men is to be considered ‘gender-based’.

one in three dv victims
One-in-three victims are men (Credit: 1IN3 Australia)

I do not think anyone in conscience (barring those who, as a support for a one-sided agenda, simply want it to be so), can stand over the claim that each and every time a man and woman are having a ‘domestic,’ that the man, on behalf of all men, is acting as the agent, conscious or unconscious, of ‘one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men…’ The overwhelming majority of the large number of public representatives I have discussed these matters with (as well as all other people with whom I have discussed them) simply do not believe this to be true. A number scoffed.

Strains and tensions inevitably occur between any two people endeavouring to create and to maintain an intimate relationship. Most of us will have experienced the reality that intimate partnerships are often the arena within which the buried issues of both partners, male or female, tend to rise to the surface. These are usually unresolved, personal issues which trace back to the ‘family of origin’, and do not, in men’s case, represent the implementation and perpetuation of a historic ‘social mechanism by which women are forced into a subordinate position’. The surfacing of these unresolved personal issues (so that they might be faced and potentially resolved) is what many people believe to be the real, spiritual, purpose of relationships. Whatever the reason, the surfacing of such unresolved issues can result in the build-up of highly charged feelings which, if not recognised and dealt with in a healthy way, can find their release in incidents of violence. In 70% percent of non-reciprocally violent male/female relationships the violence will be initiated by the woman. (See below).

An ineffective ‘mechanism’

And even if violence against women were, as opined, such a ‘crucial social mechanism’ designed to force women ‘into a subordinate position’, it has remained signally ineffective. There now exists not a single law or guideline which allows discrimination against, or the ‘subordination’ of, women in any area. A situation brought about by (mostly) male public representatives.

Taboo against violence against women

Directly contrary to the opinion the Convention offers as its justifying basis, the reality is, there exists in our society a deeply-rooted, and universally accepted, taboo against striking a woman; there is no equivalent taboo against women striking men. I was brought up, as were all my male school friends, being told by our fathers and male teachers that we must never, under any circumstances, hit a woman.

When men see a women being struck by a man, they will invariably run to protect the women; not to support the man again, as he employs the male’s ‘social mechanism by which women are forced, etc. etc’.

A woman assaulting a man in public does not result in men or women moving to protect that man. The spectacle is generally regarded as a species of street entertainment; is often applauded as a demonstration of the woman’s ‘independence’ and ‘self-empowerment’. (This was disturbingly demonstrated by the series of public ‘social experiment’ videos on YouTube)

In the Paris Bataclan atrocity of November 1985, a man was killed throwing himself in front of a woman to save her from a bullet. On the roof of the Paris music venue attacked, the men allowed women to climb up to safety before allowing any men to climb up.

Unnecessary and unjustifiable

This Convention is not required to restore what has been some lack of parity of esteem, or lack of equal protection for women under the law: Our country already has comprehensive and effective legislation to protect its citizens from assault, male or female. This convention’s stated purpose is to enshrine in law, privileges for women, over and above what will exist for men.

If violence against women, then, is not adjudged as always being ‘gendered’ – as being perpetrated ‘because she is a woman’ (as can never be demonstrated), then, to repeat, the entire foundation of the Convention falls away. Its wide-ranging raft of proposals are without justification.

Violence and domestic violence against men

This Convention shall apply to all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, which affects women disproportionately. (Article 2.1)

Worldwide, ALL surveys confirm that intimate partner violence is, very much, a two-way phenomenon.

This reality rarely is allowed more than a lip-service mention in the national conversation; and it certainly has not been a spur to any meaningful government action. So not only do many men suffer domestic violence, they suffer on top of this by having their experience sidelined, trivialised and/or ignored by the media and by their public representatives.

First and second class victims

Even if it were true that only a small proportion of men experienced domestic violence, should this be used as a justification for creating first-class (female) victims, and second-class (male) victims? Each victim of violence asks to be treated with equal seriousness and – irrespective of their gender; and irrespective of how many, or how few, other members of the gender they belong to, happen also to be victims.

Men are hugely more likely to be victims of non-domestic violence in our society. No-one would propose, thereby, that male victims of non-domestic violence, given that they suffer this type of violence disproportionately, should expect ‘particular attention’, and women victims of non-domestic violence should deserve less.

In any case: IT IS NOT merely a small, insignificant minority of men who experience domestic violence.

Some widely available facts

‘In non-reciprocally violent relationships (i.e. where only one partner is violent), women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases…’ (i.e. in the 70% of such cases where only the female partner is violent, men do not retaliate.) … A recent meta-analysis found that a woman’s perpetration of violence was the strongest predictor of her being a victim of partner violence.’ (One of the most effective ways for a woman, therefore, to avoid becoming a victim of male violence is not to assault her partner.)
American Public Health Association, 2007

Domestic Violence against men in Northern Ireland has increased by more than 40% in nine years… in one year alone (2011/12) the level of reported incidents jumped 25%. ‘But this may be only a fraction of the true figure due to the reluctance of many men to come forward because of embarrassment and shame…’
Recent Police Service of Northen Ireland statistics from Belfast Telegraph report

Domestic violence Belfast Telegraph
Male victims in Northern Ireland (Credit: Belfast Telegraph)

According to The Domestic Violence Report – Watson and Parsons (2005) cited on the Cosc website, ‘1 in 3 female victims of abuse report, and only 1 in 20 male victims report.’)

The most comprehensive review of the scholarly domestic violence research literature ever conducted is The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge (PASK) project. It is an unparalleled three-year research project, conducted by 42 scholars at 20 universities and research centres, and including information on 17 areas of domestic violence research.

The report concludes, among other things, that women perpetrate physical and emotional abuse, as well as engage in control behaviours, at comparable rates to men.

Among PASK’s findings are that, except for sexual coercion:

  • “men and women perpetrate physical and non-physical abuse at comparable rates;
  • most domestic violence is mutual;
  • women are as controlling as men;
  • domestic violence by men and women is correlated with essentially the same risk factors; and
  • male and female perpetrators are motivated for similar reasons”.

According to John Hamel, Pask report director, ‘domestic violence intervention and policy ought to be based upon these facts rather than ideology and special interests… Over the years, research on partner abuse has become unnecessarily fragmented and politicized… Although research confirms that women are more impacted by domestic violence, these findings recommend important intervention and policy changes, including: a need to pay more attention to female-perpetrated violence, mutual abuse, and the needs of male victims.’


Dr. Tonia Nicholls of PASK speaking CAFE Vancouver 2016

Another study reported that ‘recent findings indicate that gender differences in aggressive behaviour disappear when assessments are broadened to include relational aggression – behaviours designed to harm the relationship goals of others by spreading rumours, gossiping, and eliciting peer rejection of others.’ (Girls, Aggression, and Emotion Regulation” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry). The author has heard the term ‘Soul Murder’ given to such behaviours and ‘the results can often be deadly’.

Men are typically depicted and discussed as the principle perpetrators of abuse and violence against children. The reality (depending on the study): 54 -70% of abuse, injuring and murders of children are perpetrated by mothers.

The of male violence as ‘gendered’; as ‘a manifestation of patriarchy’

The Istanbul Convention is founded on the ideological myth that: ‘Violence is a mechanism used by men to maintain their historic subjugation of women.’ That ‘male violence is ‘gendered’; that it is a manifestation of ‘The Patriarchy’. That all men are, thereby, potential abusers. That all women, thereby, are potential victims.

Abuse perpetrated in female/female relationships

According to the PASK report: ‘Further evidence for the non-gender specificity of intimate partner violence and domestic violence comes from the study of lesbian couples. Ironically, although many founders of the battered women’s movement were lesbians, the issue of battering between women often remains deeply buried, ignored or denied by heterosexual women and lesbians alike. The recognition that women engage in battering challenges an analysis of heterosexual domestic violence that links male socialization with violence.

‘Since its inception, the battered women’s movement has conceptualized the problem of domestic violence in terms of a male-female phenomenon, linking violent behaviour to male gender roles. Acknowledging that women also perpetrate intimate violence raises new theoretical questions and challenges some deeply-rooted cultural beliefs about women.’

Here are the findings of two other studies: ‘Nor is the incidence of domestic violence among lesbian cohorts minimal. In fact, abuse among lesbians occurs with far greater frequency than among heterosexuals (given as 24%) and far more frequently than male-on-female abuse. Estimates of abuse have ranged between 47% and 73%’ (Coleman, 1990; Bologna, Waterman, Dawson, 1987; Lie. et al. 1991).

‘Estimates of verbal abuse in lesbian relationships have been as high as 95%’ (Kelly & Warshafsky, 1987).

Further challenges by research to The ‘Patriarchal theory’

‘Previous studies have sought to explain male violence towards women as rising from patriarchal values, which motivate men to seek to control women’s behaviour, using violence if necessary… ‘ (Bates, E. A., Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2014) Testing predictions from the male control theory of men’s partner violence. Aggressive Behaviour, 40 (1) 42-55). The PASK report summarised this study by saying: ‘This report suggests Intimate Partner Violence may not be motivated by patriarchal values, and should be further studied with other forms of aggression. The stereotypical popular view, although still dominant, is being challenged by research over the last ten to 15 years, shedding light on male domestic violence.’

Although many founders of the battered women’s movement were lesbians, the issue of battering between women often remains deeply buried, ignored or denied by heterosexual women and lesbians alike.

Most female violence perpetrated against a male intimate partner

As further support for the fact that it does not make sense to ‘understand’ violence against women as a ‘gender-based’ method to continue men’s historic ‘subordination of women’:

Of all male-perpetrated violence, only a minority is perpetrated against women. The majority of male violence is perpetrated outside of an intimate partner situation.

On the other hand, a majority of all female-perpetrated violence (two-thirds) is perpetrated against a male partner within a domestic situation. Since this is the case, since men represent two-thirds of all women’s victims, it would be more meaningful and reasonable to regard female violence against men, not male violence against women, as more likely to be ‘gender-based’.

Differing definitions of ‘gender-based violence’

Also, the Convention in Article 3.4 covers itself by stretching the definition ‘gender-based violence’, not only as violence perpetrated against a woman ‘because she is a woman’, but also by adding a second, ‘stand-by’, definition; namely: violence ‘that affects women disproportionately’.

I see no logic in the conclusion that violence must be considered ‘gender-based’ on the basis of the number of people it affects. If what makes any violence ‘gender-based’ is ‘who, proportionately, are more frequently its victim’, then heterosexual women should not be those receiving the Convention’s ‘particular attention’. Gay women, gay men and heterosexual men are those whom the convention should be paying ‘particular attention’ to: they are victims of violence in hugely greater proportion than heterosexual women.

Some actual, non-ideologically generated, factors research identifies as leading to the occurrence of domestic violence

The real seeds of most occurrences of domestic violence can be found, not in some shadowy aboriginal drive in men to subjugate women, but in the various dysfunctions experienced in the families from which the perpetrators (male or female) originate.

And here is a list of some other, more credible and meaningful, factors researchers today identify as determinants of intimate partner abuse (and which also undermine the ‘Manifestation of The Patriarchy’ hypothesis):

  • “A link was found between chronically aggressive adolescents, male or female, and domestic violence at later periods of life.
  • A diagnosis of an episode of major depression was significantly related to committing DV.
  • Being on welfare was significantly related to committing DV.
  • Having a partner who used drugs heavily, sold drugs, had a history of violence toward others, had an arrest record, or was unemployed was significantly related to committing DV.
  • Disorganized neighbourhoods where attitudes toward drug sales and violence were favourable also increased person’s likelihood of committing DV.”

‘Particular attention’ for women

Parties are encouraged to apply this Convention to all victims of domestic violence. Parties shall pay particular attention to women victims of gender-based violence in implementing the provisions of this Convention. (Article 2.2).

Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to promote and protect the right for everyone, particularly women, to live free from violence in both the public and the private sphere. (Article 4.1)

Parties shall provide or arrange for specialist women’s support services to all women victims of violence and their children. (22.2)

Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to provide for the setting-up of appropriate, easily accessible shelters in sufficient numbers to provide safe accommodation for and to reach out pro-actively to victims, especially women and their children.

Living in an advanced Western democracy, I found it hard to believe I was reading such proposals. As do many others in the Convention, these articles explicitly discriminate against me as a male Irish citizen. One can imagine the outcry rising from the appearance in any article of phrases such as ‘particular attention shall be paid to male victims’, or ‘the right for everyone, particularly men, to live free from violence.’

And I ask: What about the many women who are assaulted by their female partners? Are they, as are men, to be excluded from this proposed ‘particular attention’? What degree of attention and protection will the Convention provide for a pre-operative transgender woman? Since the Convention proposes that particular attention be paid only to female victims of gender-based violence, will she (as must be the case with gay females) also be excluded from this ‘particular attention’? Because the violence against her cannot be deemed ‘gender-based’? Or not? The Convention is out of date; out of step with 21st Century thinking.

And I ask: What about the many women who are assaulted by their female partners? Are they, as are men, to be excluded from this proposed ‘particular attention’?

The state shall refrain…

Article 5 proposes further special protection for women.

Parties shall refrain from engaging in any act of violence against women and ensure that State authorities, officials, agents, institutions and other actors acting on behalf of the State act in conformity with this obligation.

Why does this item not propose that state representatives ‘refrain from engaging in any act of violence against any citizen? This article also explicitly excludes and discriminates against me as a man. I am not to have the same protections proposed for women. By offering no protection for men against violence perpetrated by any State authority, agents, etc., the Convention explicitly grades violence against men as being less worthy of compassion or any other consideration.

This, in itself, might be considered a form of violence against males.

The convention does NOT offer equal respect and protection to male victims of domestic violence

The convention states (and our Justice minister contends, with others, when questioned) that the sections in the Convention pertaining to domestic violence will apply equally to male victims as to female victims. It may state this, and the minister may use this as a defence for the Convention; but, absolutely by its own terms, the Convention does not apply equally to male victims as to female victims of domestic violence. It will apply to male victims of domestic violence.

But not as much.

Not equally:

  • The Convention justifies itself entirely on the old 70’s hypothesis that male violence against women is ‘one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men…’; and that therefore, ‘Parties shall pay particular attention to women victims of gender-based violence’. As domestic violence is regarded as the central crucible of such so-called ‘gendered violence’, and as the Convention states that parties will be required to ‘pay particular attention to women victims of gender-based violence’, then state authorities shall be mandated to pay particular attention to all female victims of domestic violence.
  • By the Convention’s own terms and definitions, male sufferers of domestic violence are to be paid lesser attention than women. They are indeed to become second-class victims.

This is discrimination.

It is not a form of covert or indirect discrimination, as was much of the discrimination I experienced as a Catholic growing up in Derry in the 1950s and 60s; or as was much of the discrimination I experienced as a gay person growing up in Ireland in the same years.

This discrimination is explicit.

And it is manifestly obvious, that an equal consideration for male victims of D.V. is not at all a part of the drive to have the Convention rushed quietly towards ratification; without any pro/con debate in the media or the Oireachtas. Male victims are rarely acknowledged, yet alone given respectful and serious consideration, in any public discourse on domestic violence; or in any of the number of ‘welcomings’ of the Istanbul Convention there have been in the media. In all of them the focus has been entirely on the suffering and protection of female victims. This actively promotes the false narrative that ‘domestic violence’, for all intentions, purely is ‘violence against women’.

By offering no protection for men against violence perpetrated by any State authority, agents, etc., the Convention might be considered a form of violence against males.

‘Prohibiting discrimination’

The Convention proposes that, ‘without delay’, an exhaustive programme of ‘legislative measures’ are undertaken, ‘prohibiting discrimination against women, including through sanctions, where appropriate…’ and ‘abolishing laws and practices which discriminate against women.’ (Article 3.2)

This also actively discriminates against me. There is no provision for prohibiting discrimination against me, as a man; or for abolishing any laws or practices which discriminate against me.

And as points of information: Ireland already has laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender, male or female. And Ireland does not have any laws which discriminate against women.

‘Education’

The Convention also proposes a programme of ‘education’ and ‘consciousness raising’, for all Irish citizens. This programme aims, not only at embedding in the public’s consciousness, the belief that the dated and tendentious opinion laid out at the opening of the Conventions are unchallengeable ‘fact’; it also proposes that all sections of society must be seen to include an awareness and acceptance of these ‘facts’ in all their programmes, decision-making, policy-making, practices, etc.

These ‘education’ programmes are to reach into every institution, body and grouping in our society: not only into schools, but into:

Areas of informal educational facilities, as well as sports, cultural and leisure facilities and the media…the private sector, the information and technology sector… parents, children, educators, etc… (Article 14.2).

These sections of the Convention read more like an all-penetrating Cultural Revolution programme of national indoctrination.

And this ‘education’ is to be directed ‘especially’ towards ‘men and boys’ (Article 12.4). The already severely damaged self-esteem of boys in our society (see below) is further to be undermined, by making them feel that, simply by virtue of being male, they are a potential danger to society; they are potential abusers.

‘Empowering women’

In spite of its title, the scope of the Convention goes far beyond ‘violence against women and domestic violence’. It also proposes the establishment of comprehensive programmes specifically founded (and funded) to ’empower women’, for ‘the empowerment of women’, etc.

This is in a context where, by far:

  • the majority of violence in our society is perpetrated, not against women, but against boys and men;
  • where young men, far from being ‘over-empowered’, as compared to women, are failing badly academically (only 40% of university students are now male, with the gap ever widening);
  • where women significantly predominate in a large majority of all third level university subjects (including law, medicine, veterinary, education);
  • where 80%+ of suicides are male;
  • where 85-90% of those living on the streets are male;
  • where in one year alone (2014), self-harm among boys aged 10-14 years increased by 44%;
  • where enormous resources are already directed towards providing services and support for female victims of abuse, and negligible resources are provided for services for male victims etc. etc.)

Allocation of scarce resources

We repeatedly hear ever more passionate appeals for female victims of domestic abuse to have the courage to speak up and come forward to the police, or to the various women’s agencies that exist for their support and protection. Similarly repeated (as in this Convention) are ever more passionate appeals for further resources to be allocated to help encourage more women to come forward, and to provide further facilities and resources for women when they do (more help-lines, shelters, counselling, free legal aid etc. See Articles 20 -25).

  • Given the reality that 1 in 3 female victims already report, and that only 1 in 20 male report (see above, Watson and Parsons, Page 17)…
  • Given that significant sums of public money are already devoted to providing resources and facilities for women…
  • Given that the amount of public money allocated to resourcing awareness campaigns, facilities, help-lines etc. for men is next to nothing (there is only a single, struggling, woefully under-funded organisation in the country offering a helpline service for men (no refuge) – Amen in Navan town)…
  • Given all this: Surely the domestic violence section of this Convention (and all the other passionate appeals we hear) should be calling for extra funding and resources to be awarded towards encouraging the 95% of male victims who do not speak up, to come forward…
  • Should be demanding the government award urgent funding to provide resources, protection, shelter and counselling for these men when they do come forward; and for those men are already coming forward.
amen,ie
Amen.ie for male domestic violence victims (Credit: Amen.ie)

Pre-emptory strike

In a ‘pre-emptory strike’ attempt to block and silence any justifiable questioning of, or challenges to, any of the its proposals, the Convention states (incredibly):

Special measures that are necessary to prevent and protect women from gender-based violence shall not be considered discrimination under the terms of this Convention. (Article 4.4)

This means that no matter how numerous and excessive are the laws, and ‘special measures’ enacted to ‘protect women’ that may ensue from the implementation of this convention – and with no equivalent for the protection of the dignity and person of men – no citizen, male or female, will be able to charge, and make a case against, any of the measures as being discriminatory. This will be the case, no matter how ‘special’, disproportionate, invasively micro-managing, and blatantly discriminatory the ‘measures’, in reality, may become. This smacks of the type of measures enacted by authoritarian governments to stifle any criticism of the regime.

European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency survey

As evidence in support of the proposed extra resources and ‘special measures’ for women the Convention proposes, a EUFRA survey is regularly cited:

“According to a recent report by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, Violence against Women: an EU-wide survey, one in three women across the EU member states has suffered physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. The figure for Ireland was 26 per cent.” (Recent press release by Labour Women.)

On the figures for the percentage of men who have suffered sexual and/or sexual violence the Labour Women statement maintains a silence. And, in this instance, perhaps the silence is maintained with better reason than in many other cases, where any evidence pointing to the realities of female-on-male abuse is ‘disappeared’: of all the 42,000 persons interviewed for this survey, astonishingly, none of them were male.

As only women were interviewed, how can important data be gleaned such as ‘In how many of these cases was the violence mutual?’ and ‘In how many cases did the woman initiate the violence?, etc. etc.?

And the biggest question: Where is the survey providing us with the figures on Violence Against Men?

Systemic mind-set

The immense resources and effort poured into the setting up and execution of such a massive EU wide survey of violence, only against women, offer a vivid and shocking representation of how systemic is the prevailing mind-set which permits, and accepts as ‘natural and normal’, such a persistent focus on women’s concerns, together with an almost total, and callous, blackout on issues concerning the distress, person and dignity of men. This one-sided mind-set remains systemic, not only at the highest level of national government, but is systemic also at the highest levels of international governance:

  • At the top level of the EU, in the instance of the survey just discussed;
  • In the case of the discriminatory Istanbul Convention, at the highest level of the Council of Europe.

‘But look how other countries have signed the Convention’

The argument that a number of other countries already having signed the Convention represents evidence of its ‘rightness’ means nothing. What it represents is the reality, one is aware of, that the systemic mindset and climate that exists in Ireland is entrenched in many other countries; and that, in all likelihood, the articles of the Convention were not examined closely, or even read, by many of those encharged with recommending or rejecting its ratification.

The prevailing climate produces the response, ‘Oh, that’s the Convention all about protecting women, it’ll be fine. Let it through.’ Or as one male public representative told me. ‘If it’s a women’s issue we don’t tend to interfere, and kind of leave it to them to get on with it.’ Or, in the case of quite a number of the earliest and most eager signatories to the convention: ‘If we’re seen to be a good little country who care sufficiently deeply about women’s rights to sign the Convention, the European Union may look on our membership application a little more favourably.’ (Turkey was one such country!)

Offering an obsolete ideological opinion, not fact, as its only and entire justification, the Convention proposes far-reaching privileges for women, whilst offering men scant regard or respect for their particular perspectives, needs, issues or problems.

The Istanbul Convention explicitly and actively excludes, devalues, and discriminates against me as a male citizen of this country. It is sexist.

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