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The FRA violence against women European wide embarassment.

Why do these research methods continue, at great cost in time, resources and money, only to produce the already pre-determined results? 
The latest one, a massive EU wide survey was carried out by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and has the usual title variant of "Violence against women". The Questionnaire (91 pages) and Main Results (198 pages) are available online, if you have the time to read them. Most people don't, including journalists, but that doesn't stop them disseminating (oh-er) the assertion which the research was supposed to "investigate". 
The results of the survey paint a shocking picture of violence in our society, and, presumably that is why it made news everywhere. Women are suffering this terrible violence, and because they are obviously not doing it to themselves, there remains only one interpretation. Men are doing it. 
To say that this does not have an influence on public opinion is naive. 
Men, in response, immediately seek to rectify it, to help - "what can we do...what can we do  ?". It's a natural reaction. However, because there is no obvious direct response, the next best thing is to start attacking each other, outdoing each other in indignation. This is a way of demonstrating, somehow, that it is "others" who are doing all this evil. Each male is required to "demonstrate" that he is one of the good ones, and this can best be done by being the loudest in condemning others, or tolerating the most extreme "trial by fire or water". Of course, we don't burn or drown people anymore, but we do things with quite similar intent. 
On an intimate level, I'm sure most readers would be familiar with the irony of someone stating that if you loved then then you would do something (usually unpleasant) for them. Of course, the person asking is oblivious to the fact that, if they loved the other person, they wouldn't phrase it that way in the first place. Similarly, on a wider scale, we have the white ribbon campaign, where a badge is smugly worn while awaiting a pat on the head. From the USA, there are "Slut walks", "walking a mile in her shoes" and probably many others I haven't heard of, involving quite a large number of earnest young men (generally students, our best and brightest, whom you would think would have better critical abilities). 

It all smacks a little of desperation. I find it suspicious that these males are so eager to prove their innocence - who do they think they are apologising for? 
Of course, these people may or may not be sincere, as self interest is in play. They obviously have a need to prove themselves and by a process of elimination, whoever is least indignant - ie, closest to the guilty end - must be guilty at least of something (if only insensitivity) , and so on it goes, up along that continuum. The further up that ladder you can climb, the less likely you are to be accused. The accusation doesn't necessarily have to be by others, it can also be internal - perhaps you may ask yourself  if you are doing anything to stop this suffering, and feel guilt by doing nothing, feel culpable by inactivity, feel a need to find and attack these males, and so the cycle goes on.
This leads nowhere, of course, merely to a ratcheting up of the "requirements" in the hope that you won't be attacked  by those other, oh so very earnest, young men. 

Women, of course, (well , not the ones handing out the white feathers, ahem, I mean white ribbons)  are expected to live in fear of this bogeyman, never knowing when terror will strike. That is no way to live. 

The constant drone of the threat of personal terror affects every aspect of their public, professional and private lives.

But I digress! Back to the study. 
I should mention that this study is only one example of many, many very similar ones, which, taken as a whole, has a very significant impact on policy and public opinion - certainly, it was instrumental in bringing about the Istanbul Convention. 
The eagle-eyed among you will have already seen at lease one problem with it. The survey was carried out among women only. Before it even starts, there is an assumption that intimate partner violence (IPV) does not happen against males, happens very little or that, if it does, it is somehow their fault or unimportant.
Let that sink in for a moment...
We are trying to find a solution to IPV, and no one thought to ask the men. It looks at violence against women only, but compared to what?? 
Do women suffer more violence then men? We don't know. (However, it is worth noting that there is no "violece against men" campaign because "violence against men" is simply called "violence"). 
So, we have to assume that women have been prioritised: let's solve that first, then we can take care of anything else. Well, okey dokey, there is nothing particularly wrong with prioritising (of itself), but, if we are going to prioritise, perhaps children would be more appropriate. 

But there's a problem there, isn't there, because it depends on how you define the violence (here is an interesting video on violence against children on that, if you're interested). 

I've run out of time right now, but we'll get into the nitty-gritty of the study soon. Meanwhile, consider this: 

"In Ireland, 26% of women have received a "push or shove", from either their current partner, recent partner, any past partner, or someone else, at some time from the age of 15", 

or to put it another way: 

"A quarter of all Irish women suffer some form of abuse or sexual violence"

 Which do you think will make the headline ? 

To be honest, I am surprised it is as little as 26%. 
Why not ask men if they have ever been punched, slapped, kicked, had solid objects thrown at them by female partners (only) ??

I think you already know why that question is not asked....

Why mention specifically that piece of information, you may ask when the fra VAW report is a198-page document. 

Well, the answer is that the 26% is the most publicised piece of information, and it's been repeated on the radio, tv, newspapers, social media streams, comment sections, WomensAid, DRCC, posters. This torrent of noise will continue in that echo-chamber for some time and then it will eventually die down until the next report, when the process starts over. 

We forget the details, but when the next report comes out (and it may be years hence), we will think to ourselves "wasn't there some report recently where a quarter of Irish women are sexually assaulted...?" 
Whatever outrageous statement is made in the next report, it will not seem so outrageous in light of the "common knowledge" that 1 in 4 women are pushed sexually assaulted raped, by a criminal partner family member, perhaps once sometime during their lifetime a week.

Do you see how this works?

Let me state something clearly. I am not saying that both men and women are violent towards eachother. Nor am I saying that women are more violent towards men.

 I am saying that neither women nor men are generally violent, but that they are equally gentle. When individuals tragically break from this norm, our empathy and concern should be with the victim, regardless of their gender, and our search for a solution should not be led by ideological theory.

part 2 looks at the survey and tries to find out what it really says (although we may never know because the raw data is unavailable)

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