Nick Cohen notes that it’s progress when violence against women and girls is treated as such.
Odd though it may seem to older readers, the Crown Prosecution Service now regards itself as a liberal organ of the state. This week it is making a great play of its success in deterring violence against women. Its lawyers brought 91,000 domestic violence prosecutions last year and secured 67,000 convictions. As I have mentioned in this space before, many criminologists believe that the willingness, not just of prosecutors and the police but of wider society, to take violence against women and children seriously explains the welcome fall in homicide rate.
Well it would, wouldn’t it. If fewer women are killed then the homicide rate will fall, unless killers decide to kill more men to make up the numbers, which seems unlikely. Plus taking violence against women and children seriously has the added advantage of taking violence against women and children seriously. It’s quite a good idea to take violence against all kinds of people seriously, just in case no kinds of people actually deserve to be the object of violence.
But anyway, despite this one bright spot, all is not well.
But officialdom’s concern for abused women is strictly colour coded. The CPS will defend women’s rights, but only the rights of white women. Girls with black or brown skins can go hang — or, rather go have their genitalia cut to pieces.
FGM, in other words. It’s not being seen as another form of violence against girls.
Britain made female genital mutilation a criminal offence in the 1980s. Later we said it was illegal for parents to take their children abroad for the ‘procedure’. Yet although thousands of British girls are the victims of wounding with intent, the CPS has not instigated one prosecution, let alone secured a conviction.
To his credit, I suppose, Scotland Yard’s specialist in child abuse cases Commander Simon Foy found the courage to speak in public. Unfortunately, his words were a disgrace. ‘I am not necessarily sure that the availability of a stronger sense of prosecution will change’ the incidence of FGM ‘for the better,’ he said. Is there any other law that Commander Foy and his superiors think it pointless to enforce? Do senior officers say that prosecuting burglars or rapists or murderers makes no difference? Or is it only in the case of the mutilation of girls from other cultures that the cops abandon their belief in the deterrent power of punishment?
Imitating the French by having medical staff check girls, would infringe the girls’ rights, Foy continued, as he used the language of human rights to justify his failure to uphold the rights of women and girls. In this instance, and in this instance only, the police not only believe that putting alleged criminals on trial is pointless, they add that investigating an alleged crime is a criminal act.
So much for taking violence against women and girls seriously.