A number of assertions, presented as fact, have been made that domestic abuse services are being cut from female victims and given to men. The chief executive of Women’s Aid has said “We have been told by local Women’s Aid federation organisations that they are funded locally on the basis they have to provide services to male victims, and they are rarely used despite putting time and money into promoting this.”
This is untrue. There is no evidence.
The chairman of the charity asked the chief executive on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour for evidence – but none has still been published or proved.
The Guardian in August led with a story that domestic abuse services for female victims were being cut – which is shameful. One of the arguments put forward on why this is happening through the Guardian is that commissioners such as councils are:
- taking some funding allocated for female victims and reallocating some to services for male victims – thereby cutting female services
- making “funding cuts [to female refuges] because refuges do not take men” (and therefore it is presumed funding being given to groups that do take men)
- the refuge places for men are not being used and/or have had no referrals.
The information in the Guardian about The Haven (who do a great job in supporting female victims) was untrue – as in Wolverhampton they do not offer services for men yet (there was a tentative proposal to open male spaces early this year but this cannot progress sadly until the council determines the services they want tendered, hence why they have had no referrals).
Coventry council, as shown in the online piece from the national commentator Ally Fogg are increasing the budget for domestic abuse victims, some of this increase will be for male services, but not at the cost of services for female victims. The council’s paper proves this.
This particular line of argument about the awful cuts in female services is of great concern to us.
Firstly because of the lack of real and hard evidence that these cuts in female services are based on an increase in services for male victims. Six weeks ago, I asked in a Radio 4 debate on Woman’s Hour for this evidence to be published.
Secondly, it is an unnecessary and unacceptable attempt to portray service provision for male victims (such as it is*) in a negative light (‘ if there is a male service opening near you it must be because the council took funding away from female victims’) – and also to try and marginalise male victims in general.
All of us in the sector should be calling for more provision and support for victims of all genders. It is a competition for more services for all victims, not a competition of one gender against another.
The chairman asked a wide range of organisations it works with whether they knew of this but no one has come forward.