Western Mail

Helpline’s ‘dis­crim­i­na­tory’ pol­icy against males changed

- Crime · Society · Human Rights · Equality and Human Rights Commission · National Human Rights Commission (Mexico) · Cardiff · Wales · Bridgend

A POL­ICY that dis­crim­i­nated against male vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse when they called helplines has been changed fol­low­ing a cam­paign by a Welsh grand­mother.

Be­fore the change, the Equal­ity and Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (EHRC) said it was es­sen­tial to “screen” male callers to de­ter­mine whether they were “gen­uine”.

Fe­male callers would not be screened in this way be­cause “women com­prise the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse”.

That view was un­ac­cept­able to Cardiff equal­i­ties cam­paigner and grand­mother Anne O’Re­gan.

The re­tired nurse and trade union equal­i­ties of­fi­cer took her con­cerns to her lo­cal AM Mark Drake­ford, the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for Fi­nance, and asked him to in­ter­vene.

Women have al­ways been the ma­jor­ity of vic­tims of abuse, but the num­ber of men who recog­nise that they too are vic­tims has been ris­ing dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years. Ten years ago the Bri­tish Crime Sur­vey said that 15% of sur­vivors were men. Today that fig­ure has more than dou­bled to 36%.

“Mark has been hugely sup­port­ive, said Mrs O’Re­gan.

“He wrote on my be­half to the EHRC in Wales to raise my con­cerns and ask them to re­view their po­si­tion.”

Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and ref­er­ence to ex­ter­nal le­gal opin­ion the EHRC has re­versed its stance.

The EHRC’s pol­icy re­ver­sal was warmly wel­comed by Mrs O’Re­gan, who said: “As a woman, gen­der equal­ity has al­ways been very im­por­tant for me – but it’s not a one way street.

“Men are dis­ad­van­taged in a num­ber of ar­eas, such as ac­ci­dents at work, the much higher sui­cide rate and when it comes to do­mes­tic abuse.

“I’m a vol­un­teer and a trustee for the char­ity FNF Both Par­ents Mat­ter Cymru, and I see men who are vic­tims of ter­ri­ble abuse and in­jus­tice at our sup­port meet­ings in Cardiff and Brid­gend.”

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