Men’s Health Australia takes on Minister for Status of Women
A leading men’s health organisation in Australia claims that the Minister for the Status of Women, Hon Gail Gago MLC, misled Parliament by maintaining that false statistics on the Government’s Don’t Cross the Line anti-violence campaign website are accurate, back in October 2009. The Minister defended the misleading statistics in Parliament, claiming that “the data on the Don’t Cross the Line website is sound.”
MHA (Men’s Health Australia) also lodged an official complaint with the Ombudsman after attempting for five months to draw the Minister’s attention to the major statistical errors on the website.
Spokesman for MHA Greg Andresen said, “The Facts and Stats page of the website is extremely misleading to the public. It clearly inflates statistics about domestic violence against women while understating statistics about domestic violence against men.”
Men’s Health Australia supports efforts to reduce family violence in the community but is concerned that the use of incorrect or misleading ‘statistics’ by Governments unfairly stigmatises men and boys as violent and abusive, while at the same time denies services to male victims of violence.
Another concern for MHA is that the Government’s approach is not in the interests of all children in families where there is abuse or violence because it selectively favours those children in families where violence is perpetrated by the father leaving out support for children who are abused by mothers.
Some of the campaign’s errors alleged by Men’s Health Australia include:
- Overstating the annual number of women victims of domestic violence by almost 400%
- Overstating the number of women killed in domestic violence situations by 86% while ignoring the one in three victims of domestic homicide that are male
- Incorrectly claiming that 95% of domestic violence involves a male perpetrator and a female victim, when in actual fact at least one in three victims of family violence are male
- Ignoring the fact that as many young people have witnessed physical domestic violence by their mother against their father, as have witnessed it by their father against their mother
- Ignoring the research showing that equal numbers of young males and females have experienced domestic violence or have been forced to have sex by their boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Incorrectly claiming that domestic violence is the main cause of death, disability and illness in young women (the main causes are actually anxiety and depression, migraine, type 2 diabetes, asthma and schizophrenia).
Mr Andresen says, “All victims of violence deserve campaigns based upon up-to-date accurate data, and the tax-paying public doesn’t deserve to be misled. Flawed data such as this can only lead to flawed policies and actions, and many children continue to be exposed to violence because of these myths.”
“Inflating statistics on domestic violence against women risks generating an unwarranted climate of fear in the community, especially amongst females. It also has terrible impacts upon the self-esteem of boys and the development of their healthy masculinity.”
“Understating the prevalence of domestic violence against men makes it less likely that a man will be believed when he finally summons up the courage to disclose his partner’s abuse of him. It also allows Government to continue to get away with family violence policies and campaigns that ignore male victims.”