Western Mail

Helpline’s ‘discrimina­tory’ policy against males changed


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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