The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have produced a report called “Violence against Women and Girls Crime Report”. It contains, as you might expect, statics and stories about prosecutions and convictions against people who have committed violence against women and girls. Oh, and boys and men. Yes that’s right it contains statistics about crimes with male victims. This is odd given the title but what’s odder is they treat these male victims as female.
To explain what I mean I will start in the glossary of the report, on page 103 to be precise. Here we find definitions of the crimes the report discusses. Take for example the definition of domestic abuse: “any incident... of controlling coercive or threatening behaviour... regardless of gender or sexuality”. Yet in the discussion on domestic abuse in a report about women and girls no attempt is made to distinguish by gender. The implication is that all the victims are female. Yet it does include male victims they just have had their gender switched.
This happens repeatedly. In a report about violence against a specific gender almost every definition explicitly says gender shouldn’t be a factor. To be a victim of child abuse you need to be a child, gender doesn’t matter. To be a victim of a forced marriage you have to be forced into a marriage, gender doesn’t matter. To be a victim of rape you need to be raped, gender doesn’t matter. The only crime that specifically mentions a gender is female genital mutilation. Yet the report treats them all as if they only include women and girls.
This would be frustrating enough if it were an oversight. If it just hadn’t occurred to the report writers. If we shoot back up to page 5 of the report to the first paragraph of the executive summary we see that the report writes are aware they just don’t care: “We recognise that these offences can be targeted can be targeted at male and transgender victims as well as female victims.” They know full well that the statistic they are using are being misrepresented but are unwilling to put any work in to fix this.
There are two main reasons why this is a problem. The first is that it’s just bad statistics. The figures don’t represent what they claim to and obfuscate the truth. The CPS’s aim here is to provide the details to prevent violence against women and girls and to help get convictions against the perpetrators. By lumping everyone under the same banner they simplify the narrative. This could result in details being missed and undermine attempts help right the situation. For example from this report we can’t tell if a rise in a conviction rate is related to a gendered issue or some other factor.
The second problem is that it is white washing male victims out of history. For male victims of crimes such as these there exists a stigma. There is an idea that “real men” don’t fall prey to crimes like rape or domestic abuse. A big part of what they need is simple recognition of what they are going though. That we know they suffer and that we will support where we if we can. The CPS’s decision to hide the men in the statics only helps to spread the myth that these crime don’t have male victims which may well rob men and boys of support in there hour of need.
The worse thing about the report is that the writers took an active decision to hide male victims. They thought that it is okay to misrepresent the facts and prevent support going to the right places.
It is not okay.