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Dvjustice - epetition reply

8 April 2008

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make provision for ALL victims of domestic abuse regardless of their gender."

Details of Petition:

"Domestic abuse, according to hundreds of studies from around the world and including Britain, affects men and women in equal numbers. Yet the government has suppressed these facts and focussed only on female victims. This means that where women have 500 refuges supported by the government, males have no where to go with their children when they are attacked. This is sexist and wrong and we petition the prime minister to end this practice of discrimination by making services and funds available to protect both genders."

Read the Government's response

The Government recognises that domestic violence occurs across society, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, wealth and geography. We recognise that victims of domestic violence can be male or female and that people in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities experience it in a similar proportion to the rest of the population.

According to the British Crime Survey, one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. While the figures show that domestic violence is predominantly violence by men against women, we recognise the need to ensure that the law offers all victims the same level of protection.

We believe that any victim suffering persistent abuse should be treated equally and take the issue of male victims seriously. That is why both the Government definition of domestic violence and the Domestic Violence, Crime & Victims, Act, were designed to be deliberately gender neutral and we expect all the victims of domestic violence to be taken seriously by all services, particularly criminal justice agencies.

The Government have also been doing a great deal to support victims and have set up a matrix of help-lines and support services. With specific regard to male victims, we have set up the Men's Advice Line and the Men's Coalition, who offer help to men in abusive relationships and work to ensure that men and boys experiences are acknowledged and the impact of public policy on their lives is given voice.

Whilst there are very few men's single refuges, there are many other forms of accommodation that men can use if they do need to leave their homes because of domestic violence. Refuge and hostel accommodation are just two of a range of options but they will not always be appropriate or safe in all instances. A survey carried out in 2007 on behalf of Communities and Local Government found that there were 415 spaces were identified as available to men.

Decisions around the provision of refuge spaces are a local matter and it is the responsibility of the individual local authority to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available data sources. For example there is nothing to prevent Supporting People funding being used to provide housing related support for men experiencing domestic violence. Indeed, local commissioning bodies should be carrying out thorough assessments of need as part of the process of developing supporting people strategies

We have also published Sanctuary Scheme guidance which can enable victims of domestic violence to remain in their own accommodation where it is safe for them to do so, where it is their choice and where the perpetrator no longer lives within the accommodation. As well as preventing homelessness being able to stay in their own accommodation means that in addition to maintaining existing social networks victims will not have to find new GPs or new schools for their children. It is likely that this can also mitigate some of the financial hardship that may occur when having to set up a new house.

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