The O'Palmer is looking for correspondants, writers, researchers, friends and collaborators. Get involved, Get in touch ...

What's wrong with the Istanbul Convention?

Ostensibly, the motives behind The Convention are admirable, but there is a danger here that the cure is more deadly than the disease.
The title of the convention sets the scene and the framework for the document to place it above criticism. Every sane person wants to "combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence". However, in achieving this, it is not necessary to attack men - and that is what the convention does. Not some men, but all men.

Reflect upon that title again. It has two parts: violence against women, and domestic violence.
Firstly, why does preventing violence exclude men? 
Secondly, domestic violence (in the context of the document) is perceived and promoted as a gendered phenomenon.

Taking a quick look at violence regarding men it needs to be remembered that Men are not invincible, they bruise, they bleed, they suffer - in short, they are human beings. There is most certainly a problem with violence in society and it needs to be addressed. However, most peoples experience of public violence is one which is perpetrated against men, which makes up the vast majority of public violence (referring only to civilian violence, setting war aside). A very, very small part of that violence is perpetrated against women and some of that, at least, is perpetrated by women

This does not lesson the concern, of course, and it would be a very cock-eyed argument that would suggest that because public violence against women is only a tiny fraction of the violence, women should not be protected by the law (as if the law is some resource which can only be stretched so far.

Yet, this appears to be precisely what the convention does. It's sets up specific and particular protections for female citizens, at the cost of male citizens (in terms of protection, policy and resources). Simultaneously, it reinforces the idea that men are violent (as men),  and that violence is singularly masculine, even though the vast majority of men are peaceful.

A common response to the overwhelming number of male victims of public violence is to say that this violence against men is perpetrated by men. So what? It's difficult to see how the victim somehow suffers less if the perpetrator is of the same gender, as if the victim is somehow culpable.

Another common response is to say that violence against women by men is an accepted part of our culture, and so needs to be addressed in a particular way. The problem with this assertion is that there is no evidence for it. At no point in our history has it been acceptable for a man to beat up a woman publicly (let alone for people to stand around cheering, which would demonstrate the cultural acceptance). However, until relatively recently, it has been acceptable for a man to beat up another man (including cheering), and it has been acceptable for a woman to strike, injure, maim a man in public (again, to cheers or laughter). So much so, that it has become a staple in popular entertainment (think of any rom-com). It can be argued that women are capable of being just a violent as men, but that it somehow does not count.

Which brings us neatly on to domestic violence. Rejecting the two points above, one may say "aha, yes, but it happens behind closed doors". Well, yes, violence does happen behind closed doors, within a relationship, and we have a name for it. 

The problem with this is that it is perceived, presented and understood as predominantly male against female. This paradigm has blinkered almost all research into the problem and, in fact, has caused any research which contradicts that premise to be ignored or suppressed (such evidence has been available since the 1970s). 

Even Cosc has come to this realisation and further research may lead to a greater understanding of domestic violence. It is only very recently that the complex, cyclical nature of domestic violence has made it into mainstream media. Only by understanding the problem as a whole can a solution be found (and the suffering women and men be assisted). 

The legistlation being enacted by the convention will prevent necessary research being done, and set in law the unhelpful assertion that domestic violence is a gendered issue. It will impact upon almost every aspect of your personal life.
It's too important to be left to politicians.

Ireland has not yet ratified the Convention, and has a chance to challenge the ideological basis of the document. 

This legislation is not about, or for "other men", it is about your son, your brother, your father, your uncle, your friend, your partner, who are being defined as criminals, abusers, rapists. 

If someone said it to your face, there would be hell to pay, would there not?

At least, please insist on a discussion.

Please contact your local TD, or your Senator, or the Department of Justice and Equality, voice your concerns about the basis for this legislation and ask for it to be challenged.

....coming soon: looking at the details

No reviews yet.. be the first !

share your views