'Licence to batter'
Imagine the case: a bloke is down the pub, has a drink or two too many, loses his temper with a man at the next table who is, he thinks, "looking at me funny" and beats the hell out of him. Duly hauled before a magistrate, he says: "Sorry. Really sorry. Didn't mean any harm. Won't do it again." The magistrate says: "That's all right then. Here's a slap on the wrist."
No, I can't imagine it either. But that is what is proposed, at least for cases of domestic violence, in new draft guidelines.
MEN and women who attack their partners should have the chance to avoid being sent to jail if they appear genuinely sorry for their violence, according to sentencing proposals published yesterday.
Instead, wife-beaters could receive a suspended prison sentence or community order. The proposals also recommend that perpetrators of domestic violence attend courses to tackle their offending, even though it is too early to know if they are effective in curbing violence.
The head of the leading domestic violence charity attacked the draft guidelines. Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: “It would be a travesty if the Sentencing Guidelines Council proposals on domestic violence come into effect. In short they give men a licence to batter women as long as they are able to put on a remorseful act in front of a judge.”
That fits nicely with an excellent interview with Catharine McKinnon, whose latest book, Are Women Human? has just been published.
She writes: "[T]he fact that the law of rape protects rapists and is written from their point of view to guarantee impunity for most rapes is officially regarded as a violation of the law of sex equality, national or international, by virtually nobody."
Are you suggesting that rape law enshrines rapists' points of view, I ask MacKinnon? "Yes, in a couple of senses. The most obvious sense is that most rapists are men and most legislators are men and most judges are men and the law of rape was created when women weren't even allowed to vote. So that means not that all the people who wrote it were rapists, but that they are a member of the group who do [rape] and who do for reasons that they share in common even with those who don't, namely masculinity and their identification with masculine norms and in particular being the people who initiate sex and being the people who socially experience themselves as being affirmed by aggressive initiation of sexual interaction."