The BBC's Panorama programme completely misrepresented the reality of Domestic Violence and men should speak out and complain, says Nick Langford.
This week the BBC broadcast a Panorama programme purporting to cover the issue of domestic violence (DV). I have made a complaint to the BBC about this programme and would encourage you to do likewise: a larger number of complaints will make it more likely they will be taken seriously. This is why I have complained.
Panorama claims to feature “investigative reports on a wide variety of subjects”, it is the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme and has been broadcast since 1953. It has made some remarkable programmes including Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana and the 2006 exposure of the Vatican’s suppression of child sexual abuse scandals.
Last night’s programme involved no journalism, investigative or otherwise, despite being produced and directed by award-winning journalist Joe Plomin. It said nothing new about DV, despite professing to present a “real understanding of what it is” and presented no solutions, coping strategies or general advice to victims. It was a 30-minute state-sponsored fund-raising propaganda video for the feminist lobby group Women’s Aid which is currently running a campaign to criminalise “coercive control”.
Panorama depicted DV as perpetrated only by men with women as victims, and children as incidental victims. Women were presented fleetingly as perpetrators only in same-sex relationships and there was no mention at all that men could be victims or that fathers might sometimes need to protect their children from DV.
Panorama entirely misrepresented the reality of DV. Perhaps the best source of accurate data is the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK) which reports that 28.3% of women are perpetrators and 21.6% of men; over a lifetime 23% of women and 19.3% of men will be victims, meaning that men represent 45.6% of victims. Any male victim of DV watching would have felt, yet again, that he was invisible and irrelevant; that his license fee was being used to promote a disgraceful lie.
The only DV support organisation referenced was Women’s Aid, of which Julie Walters, the narrator, is a patron. There was no mention of any other women’s organisations, and certainly none of support groups for men.
I feel particularly aggrieved for the very brave women featured. No doubt they felt that allowing the cameras to intrude into their lives, recording their horrific injuries, would raise the profile of DV and help other victims come forward and escape abuse, but I believe they have merely been exposed to further exploitation and victimisation by the BBC.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Women’s Aid’s sister group, Refuge, famously said, “If we put across this idea that the abuse of men is as great as the abuse of women, then it could seriously affect our funding”.
Domestic violence is big business, attracting a great deal of funding, chiefly from our taxes. The victim of DV is a cash-cow, and if anyone were seriously committed to ending DV they would stop misrepresenting it as a gendered issue, come clean about the reality and seek to understand why some people abuse intimate partners and how they might be helped to stop.
---Picture credit: Flickr/Steven Depolo
You can buy Nick Langford's new book, An Exercise in Absolute Futility: Whatever happened to family justice? from Amazon. Nick has also co-authored a handy guide to family law in the UK, with his wife Ruth, which is also available on Amazon.
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